Justin Trudeau reiterated Quebec’s right to set out its own criteria for potential immigrants, but declined to say whether a re-elected Liberal government would intervene if a proposed values test was too intrusive in questioning newcomers.
Speaking to reporters Friday, the Liberal Leader doubled down on remarks he made about a potential Quebec values test during Thursday night’s French-language debate. Last month, Quebec Premier François Legault outlined a list of demands for federal party leaders on the campaign trail, including a language and values test for potential immigrants in the province.
Under the Canada-Quebec accord on immigration, the Quebec government has the power to decide which potential immigrants will be granted a selection certificate. Once an applicant has a selection certificate, they can apply for permanent residence with the federal government.
“They [Quebec] have the right to move forward on whatever criteria they want for that certificate selection. It is within their responsibility,” Mr. Trudeau said at a news conference in Surrey, B.C.
Asked what questions would be deemed inappropriate or whether a Liberal government would intervene if it feels the test goes too far, Mr. Trudeau said, “I’m not going to get into hypotheticals on this one. It’s a Quebec responsibility to deliver their certificate of selection.”
Mr. Trudeau avoided saying whether the Liberal government would step in with the proposed values test as he leaves the door open to intervening on Quebec’s Bill 21, the controversial law that restricts religious dress among some public servants. Bill 21 is now being challenged in Quebec Superior Court on questions of jurisdiction and broader constitutional principles.
Mr. Trudeau made the remarks at Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus, where he also attacked the Conservative Party’s platform, unveiled Friday. He said the Conservatives’ plan to bring forward billions of dollars in cuts to government spending echoes the actions of Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
“We’ve seen very clearly the Conservatives are proposing $53-billion worth of cuts, deeper cuts than even Doug Ford is putting forward and that’s why they waited until Friday night of a long weekend at the end of the election before sharing with Canadians their plan to cut services,” he said.
Mr. Trudeau was joined by Randeep Sarai, the Liberal candidate for Surrey Centre at the event.
Mr. Sarai stepped down as the Liberals’ B.C. caucus chair last year after taking responsibility for inviting convicted attempted assassin Jaspal Atwal to events during Mr. Trudeau’s controversial India trip. Mr. Atwal’s presence at the Mumbai event created a furor in Ottawa at the time, given that he was convicted of trying to kill an Indian cabinet minister in 1986. His invitation to a second gathering in Delhi during Mr. Trudeau’s visit was rescinded after photos of him at the Mumbai event surfaced.
Mr. Trudeau kicked off the final stretch of the Liberal Party’s cross-country tour with a rally at a food court in downtown Ottawa Friday morning. Local candidates, war-room staff and supporters attended the rally, where Mr. Trudeau promised to “see you on the flip slide” after the Oct. 21 election.
Mr. Trudeau later campaigned at shops in Port Coquitlam alongside two local Liberal candidates Friday afternoon, followed later by a rally in Burnaby South, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s riding.
The Liberal campaign will travel to Mississauga Saturday for a rally with Liberal candidate Navdeep Bains.