Canada PM Trudeau rejects Quebec’s request for full powers over immigration

Canada immigration. Image credit: Facebook page

Following a meeting in Montreal on Friday with Quebec’s premier Francois Legault, Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reportedly rejected Quebec’s request for additional powers over immigration.

Legault, who reportedly had intended to use the meeting to ask Trudeau for full control over immigration felt rebuked by Trudeau’s statement of refusal.

“No, we won’t give more powers over immigration,” Trudeau told reporters. “Quebec already has more power over immigration, because it’s very important to protect the French.”

During question period in the National Assembly Thursday, Legault was reported saying that since 2015, the demand for full immigration powers for Quebec has been part of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) platform but the party has not succeeded.

Under a Canada-Quebec agreement signed in 1991, Quebec reportedly has both a control over the volume of entry of future permanent residents and economic immigrants as well as their integration and francization.

The federal government handles refugees, family reunification and citizenship issues.

Currently, immigration is a shared jurisdiction between Quebec and Ottawa.

Trudeau said he is more interested in finding ways of making the system work better rather than discussing jurisdiction.

“It’s not a question of who has control of what,” he said. “We’re there to collaborate, to work together.”

Quebec already controls the number of economic immigrants to the province, but it shares responsibility with Ottawa over refugees and newcomers who arrive through the family reunification stream.

Legault claimed that Quebec has already accepted more than its share of refugee claimants in recent years but the shortage of teachers, nurses and housing in the province does not allow it to accept more newcomers than it already does.

Trudeau responded to Legault by saying that  action to reduce asylum-seeker claims has already been taken by closing down Roxham Road, which was used as an unofficial crossing for refugee claimants coming into the province through the United States, and by reimposing visa requirements for Mexican nationals. 

He said the international student program is being reviewed by the federal government and is willing to discuss limiting temporary workers where needed.

I am hearing very clearly from Premier Legault and from different Quebecers that they want to see the number of temporary workers go down across Quebec, and we’re there to work hand in hand with Quebec in a collaborative way,” he said, while adding that many industries rely heavily on international workers.