Filmmaker Anita Aloisio and former Superior Court Justice Pepita G. Capriolo barely know each other.
They both have different roots, histories and backgrounds, but what has brought them together is one major thing they have in common.
Both women are immigrants who have spent most of their lives in Quebec.
They speak English, French and Italian, so when they heard Premier Francois Legault call Liberal MNA Saul Polo an anecdote for successfully integrating into French Quebec, they took it personally.
“I’ve been living only in Quebec since 1983, and I’ve always worked in French,” said Capriolo. “It seemed obvious to me that I would work in French. My children were [Bill] 101 children, they went to French school. All of that is normal. So to be considered an anecdote was terribly hurtful.”
At his party’s recent policy convention, Legault told supporters that if re-elected, he’ll demand more immigration powers from Ottawa.
If not, he added, Quebec risks turning into Louisana.
Quebec is no Louisiana, experts say as premier accused of stoking immigration fears
He later defended his statement by saying statistics suggest fewer people are speaking French at home and at work in the province.
When he was pressed by Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade on whether he thought immigrants like Polo were threats to Quebec, he called Polo’s story an anecdote, which not only offended the MNA for Laval-des-Rapides but many others across the province.
Recession fears are growing. Here’s how younger Canadians can prepare
Canada issues travel notice as monkeypox continues to spread around the world
“If we underplay our immigrant populations and their variety and their contributions to society, then they become, in the eyes of our government, unimportant, which is absolutely not the case,” said Aloisio.
“They are essential to Quebec culture.”
READ MORE: Use of French at home is only one indicator of language health: Quebec demographers
Freelance writer Alexander Hackett says he doesn’t understand why the premier is creating this divisive debate.
He says Legault is bringing back a narrative that is old-fashioned and in Quebec’s past.
“The future is immigration,” said Hackett. “The future is everybody is going to be speaking more than two languages in Quebec and we should be proud that we are probably the most trilingual place in North America.”
Hackett says this kind of rhetoric creates an unnecessary dialogue about what and who a real Quebecer is or isn’t.
And that’s the very thing that Capriolo and Aloisio call dangerous.
They, like many other immigrants say they’ve spent their lives making a meaningful contribution to the province, and so whether or not anyone else believes it, they say they are not anecdotes, but rather full- fledged Quebecers.
War of words at the National Assembly
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.