CAQ will proceed with Quebec immigration reform despite legal setback

In the meantime, no resources will be added. The Immigration Ministry is not planning a blitz to clear 18,000 applications.

Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette (pictured in October) was criticized in the National Assembly Thursday as being «more heartless than Stephen Harper.» Jacques Boissinot / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES

QUEBEC — Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette Tuesday has vowed to proceed with his reform plans despite a legal setback Monday in Quebec Superior Court.

But he said there no plans to add additional resources to process at a faster pace the backlog of 18,000 applications which Quebec intended to toss in the shredder until a judge said it could not.

“No,” Jolin-Barrette said when asked by a reporter if a court ruling blocking his plan disturbs the Coalition Avenir Québec government’s plans.

Jolin-Barrette repeated the government intends to respect the ruling — obtained by Quebec’s association of immigration lawyers – and get back to the business of processing the backlog of files for now.

“We are going to respect the ruling right up to the adoption of the bill,” Jolin-Barrrette told reporters arriving for a meeting of the legislature committee examining Bill 9.

“We will proceed doing things the way they were done before the tabling of the bill and the bill does not change anything for people already in Quebec.”

But Jolin-Barrette was clear. His ministry is not planning a blitz to clear the files.

“The same resources (in personnel) will be assigned to handling the files as were in use before,” Jolin-Barrette said.

He also indicated he has no plans to drop paragraph 20 of the bill which would empower the government to eliminate the files.

“The National Assembly will review bill 9 but it is the will of the government to go ahead with Bill 9 to modernize the immigration system,” he said.

Jolin-Barrette’s troubles with the file Tuesday were just getting started.

By coincidence, the first group up before the committee was the Association Québécoise des avocats et avocates en droit de l’immigration which won the injunction Monday.

“I hope he listen more now,” association president Guillaume Cliche-Rivard told reporters on his way into the meeting. He added his association wants the 18,000 files processed regardless of the date Bill 9 is actually adopted.

In fact, they would prefer the minister state in writing that the files will be processed.

Later, he and Jolin-Barrette tangled at the committee over another clause in the bill that would allow Quebec to make its issuing of a Quebec Selection Certificate conditional to the new arrival living in a specific region.

In one heated exchange, Cliche-Rivard reminded the minister his title contains the word “inclusion,” and not coercion. Jolin-Barrette’s full title is minister of immigration, diversity and inclusiveness.

“I take note of your editorial comment,” the normally unflappable Jolin-Barrette snapped back.

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