April 24th, 2024

Prime Minister Trudeau rejects Quebec request for full powers over immigration

By The Canadian Press on March 15, 2024.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a bilateral meeting with Quebec Premier François Legault in Montreal, Friday, March 15, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi

MONTREAL – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he has rejected Quebec’s request for additional powers over immigration.

Trudeau made the comments Friday after a meeting in Montreal with Premier François Legault. The prime minister’s statement is a rebuke to Legault, who on Thursday said he would use the meeting to ask Trudeau for full control over immigration.

“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 French.”

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 has said that Quebec has already accepted more than its share of refugee claimants in recent years, and that the province doesn’t have enough teachers, nurses and housing to accept more newcomers than it already does.

Trudeau says, however, that Ottawa has taken action to reduce asylum-seeker claims 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 federal government is reviewing the international student program 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.

Legault, who will address the media later Friday morning, said on Thursday that he would “evaluate his options” if the prime minister refuses his demand.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 15, 2024.

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