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(en) Canada, Montreal, Re-Engineer The State: Open The Borders! by Comité des sans-emploi & CLAC-Logement

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 29 Jan 2004 09:33:35 +0100 (CET)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
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http://ainfos.ca/ http://ainfos.ca/index24.html

An article taken from "C'est arrivé près de chez-vous",
a newspaper published by Comité des sans-emploi & CLAC-Logement.
What impact will the Charest government's plans to
"re-engineer the state" have on (im)migrants, refugees and
non-status people in Quebec? In many ways, the true logic of
this re-engineering has long been operative in Quebec and
Canadian immigration policy. It pretends to reduce the role of
the state (by denying public support and services to people
who need them) while actually augmenting state power to
regulate and police people and facilitate their exploitation.

Quebec's Minister of Citizen Relations and Immigration,
Michelle Courchesne, is calling for a consultation on the
number of immigrants Quebec should accept and "integrate"
over the next three years. It will begin on February 10, 2004.
In a document called "Consultation 2005-2007: Planning
Immigration Rates" submitted to the National Assembly on
December 9, 2003, Courchesne discusses the importance of
using immigration as "a tool for development."i She goes on
to say that according to Emploi-Quebec, over 640,000
vacancies in the labor market will need to be filled between
2002-2006. The document asks how to attract "ideal"
immigrants at a rate adequate to ensure a labour force to fill
those positions. ("Ideal," according to the December 9th
document, is "young, adaptable, qualified, with children, and
already speaks French.")ii

Quite clearly, for the government of Quebec, immigrants are
tools for the economic development that will profit Quebec's
bourgeoisie. And while the government talks neo-liberal
jargon about restructuring government, it in fact is spending
an increasing amount of money regulating who and how
many people are allowed to settle here. Hence it will pour
funding into the February consultation process, during which
the question of whether the target numbers of immigrants
should, for the purposes of economic development, be
increased, decreased or kept stable over the next three
years. Population engineering for profit...

In this way, the government commodifies human beings and
human rights - the right to move freely, the right to safety
and security, the right to appropriate food and shelter, the
right to education. It reduces people to their value as cheap

Indeed, (im)migrant workers are particularly vulnerable to
exploitation, precarious employment and substandard labour
conditions. Although a number of classes of immigrants are
selected by Quebec according to criteria that gauge their
employability in professional sectors and in sectors in which
there is a shortage of specially trained individuals, even the
MRCI admits that frequently people arriving in Quebec are
unable to find a job in their field. Either a result of their
qualifications not being recognized or as a result of straight
up discrimination,iii they end up working low-paying jobs
unrelated to their training.

Moreover, a great many people who make the difficult choice
to leave their country, families and established lives to seek
refuge in Canada or Quebec (for legitimate humanitarian and
economic reasons) find themselves without permanent
resident status. The government - via Revenue Canada -
regulates them by granting them social insurance numbers
that begin with the number nine, as well as the date they are
supposed to leave the country. The nine alerts prospective
employers to the fact that they are "temporary" workers, and
consequently serves to dissuade employers from hiring
non-status migrants for long-term, stable jobs.

This takes place in a context in which non-status people and
new immigrants are denied the social services that help
people with precarious employment to survive. They have
limited access to public health care, no right to day-care
subsidies, and, if they wish to study at CEGEP or University
level, they must pay exorbitant international student fees,
making post-secondary education nearly impossible. Many
people without status simply do not have access to welfare.
And although some non-status people in Quebec are, in
theory, eligible for welfare, it is well-known to people
applying for permanent residence in Quebec that it is almost
impossible if you are or have been on welfare. Thus, there
exists tremendous pressure for non-status people to take
any job, no matter little relation it has to previous (and
oftentimes very extensive) professional training they might
have, no matter how hazardous or how poorly-paid.

While the Liberal government cuts public services for both
citizens, permanent residents and non-status people, it
shows no sign of cutting the budget of the Immigration
selection department whose job it is to recruit 'ideal'
immigrants and measure the 'level of integration' of people
without status applying for permanent residence from within
Quebec. (And there is so much to be said about the racist
and anti-poor ways in which a notion of Quebec's society is
constructed and a person's 'integration' is evaluated that it
could fill this entire paper.) This takes place in a Federal
context in which a new Ministry of Public Safety and
Security has taken over the responsibility for policing
borders and deporting those (im)migrants that Quebec's
MRCI has judged insufficiently integrated - maybe because
they haven't worked or have taken welfare, maybe because
they don't speak French well enough, maybe because they
wear hijab and pray at a mosque...

In the end, the cycle of precariousness is perpetuated, and a
wealthy class of citizens profits from the regulation of
(im)migrant movement and labor. But organizations of
(im)migrant workers and groups of refugees and non-status
people in Quebec and across Canada, such as the Action
Committee for Non-Status Algerians, the Coalition Against
the Deportation of Palestinian Refugees, and the Action
Committee Against the Racial Profiling of Pakistani
Refugees are fighting for status, and publicly denouncing
their exploitation as a class of virtual slaves, as well as the
mercenary and racist selection processes of the MRCI and
Immigration Canada. As the fight-back against the Charest
government builds, we need to demand that the state be
TRULY re-engineered - by eliminating its Immigration
bureaucracies and Immigration police, and opening the

i "Consultation 2005-2007: La planification des niveaux
d'immigration," La Direction de la population et de la
recherche de la ministère des Relations avec les citoyens
et de l'Immigration, 11.

ii Ibid. 11.

iii Ibid., 23. an anyone still buy the
idea that the reengineering of the State is being done to
benefit all Quebec's population, when more than 60% of us
live as tenants in urban centers? The dramatic situation in
the housing sector just demonstrates once again that
Charest rules for the profit of his buddies, the rich and the
landlords. We say it and we'll say it again: the right to
private property always comes into conflict with the right
us to house ourselves.
Copied from North East Federation of Anarcho-Communists - NEFAC

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