Bouchard-Taylor Commission - Quebec Liberal Party recommends five general solutions

    MONTREAL, Dec. 9 /CNW Telbec/ - Prior to the Quebec Liberal Party's
appearance before the Bouchard-Taylor Commission tomorrow, Party president
Marc-André Blanchard today presented news media with a copy of the Party's
brief. Mr. Blanchard was accompanied by the Quebec Liberal Party's policy
commission chair, Christian Ouellet, as well as three members of the working
group on identity and federalism, Mr. Marc Tanguay, Ms. Dominique Fortin and
Mr. Saul Polo, who recently completed a wide-reaching consultation across
Quebec on the question of identity.
    "Our brief to the Commission hearings involves public duty and
responsibility," said Party president Marc-André Blanchard. "A lot has been
said and written on the subject of reasonable accommodation. Like others, the
Quebec Liberal Party has a responsibility to consider the question carefully
and offer ideas and solutions."
    "Our policy commission has done its homework and I'm pleased to publish
the results of our discussions," said Christian Ouellet, chair of the policy
commission. "We view Quebec as a nation that draws on the strength of its
French language, its culture, its history and its institutions, and that must
address the identity question with a pluralist, modern, egalitarian, open and
confident outlook."
    The Quebec Liberal Party brief proposes various solutions, which can be
summarized under five main priorities:

    1. Promote the contributions of immigration to Quebec's economic,
       demographic, social and cultural development;

    2. Ask all immigrants to make a moral commitment in the form of a
       statement of understanding Quebec values, which may be signed as part
       of the selection process to ensure immigrants understand our reality
       before choosing Quebec as their new home;

    3. Recognize the dual necessity for Quebec to increase its immigration
       levels as well as its resources devoted to the francization and
       integration of new Quebecers;

    4. Improve the recognition of new Quebecers' academic and professional
       qualifications to allow them to contribute to the job market and
       economy to the best of their abilities and talents;

    5. Guarantee that the equality of men and women cannot be subject to an
       accommodation that would diminish its scope or meaning.

    In terms of the secular nature of Quebec society, the majority of
participants in the Quebec Liberal Party's consultations this fall said Quebec
had achieved a proper balance and therefore there was no need to intervene any
further to exclude religious symbols from public institutions. The Quebec
Liberal Party therefore believes in open secularism, as practised today, which
allows Quebec to preserve its heritage.

    Same strategy at the ADQ and PQ

    Marc-André Blanchard and Christian Ouellet criticized the ADQ and PQ for
their shared strategy of exploiting the identity question politically and then
refusing to explain their views before the Bouchard-Taylor Commission. While
the ADQ has refused outright to participate in the Commission, the PQ has made
a presentation but refuses to discuss the controversial elements of its
identity bill.
    "The ADQ fully exploited reasonable accommodation, particularly during
the last election," said Mr. Blanchard. "Where is the ADQ today when we're
talking about solutions? The ADQ's absence is both shameful and irresponsible,
especially considering that the Bouchard-Taylor Commission set aside a
specific period for the participation of political parties.
    "The PQ, rather than bringing reason to the debate, took its turn
exploiting the identity question by proposing legislation that would remove
the democratic rights of those who fail to 'adequately' master the French
language. Strangely, there isn't a word of this in the brief just presented to
the Bouchard-Taylor Commission by the PQ. Yet, only several weeks ago, Pierre
Curzi specified that the PQ had even considered the idea of literally taking
away the right to vote from such people in a sovereign Quebec. It seems to me
this is a rather fundamental issue for the PQ to raise with the Commission,"
said Mr. Blanchard.

    The Quebec Liberal Party will present its brief to the Bouchard-Taylor
Commission on Monday, December 10 at 3 p.m.

For further information:

For further information: Michel Rochette, Director of Communications,
Quebec Liberal Party, (514) 288-4364;

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