A former Parti Québécois MNA says party leader Pauline Marois's controversial proposal for a Quebec identity act would create two classes of citizens —possibly sparking violent social clashes — and is creating divisions within the party.
Jonathan Valois said Monday that the proposed act would "ghettoize" new Quebecers and marginalize anyone who doesn't learn French.
"I know that a lot of people in my generation are not very happy with what they are hearing," Valois said.
He said many younger Quebecers who have supported the PQ are turning their backs on the party, waiting for new leadership with ideas they consider to be more modern.
Under Marois's proposed law, immigrants would be required to have an "appropriate" working knowledge of French to be sworn in as Quebec citizens.
Those immigrants who fail to develop their French-language skills would not be allowed to hold public office, raise funds for a party or petition the national assembly with a grievance.
Marois said the creation of Quebec citizenship would send a strong message to immigrants, who, she said, too often continue to choose English when they arrive.
Marois presented the bill as part of her solution to the province's debate over reasonable accommodation for minorities.
The Liberal minority government has said the act would create two classes of Quebecers, and it plans to oppose the legislation.
Valois said withholding rights for not speaking French is no different from telling someone they can't vote so long as they continue to collect welfare.
Valois was an influential member of a group of PQ politicians assigned to take the pulse of young people in the province in 2004.
After interviewing young people provincewide, they reported that the sovereignty movement was "outmoded, outdated and dilapidated."
The report said the independence option doesn't seem to be all that important to many young Quebecers, especially among those who don't belong to the PQ.
PQ members Alexandre Bourdeau, Stéphan Tremblay and Valois said thatunless the party moves beyond strict ideology, sovereignty will become an old idea.
In the provincial election last March, Valois announced he would not be a candidate, "for personal reasons."