March 24, 2023

To say that political extremes are rising because of the immigrants themselves is wrong. And fundamentally unfair.

But affirming that political decisions – or non-decisions – can contribute to the rise of extremes, even if this is not the objective, goes without saying. It is obvious.

It is essentially on this that, since yesterday, the two young leaders of Quebec politics, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois and Paul Saint-Pierre Plamondon, persist.

GND accuses PSPP of seeing immigration only as a negative issue. PSPP believes that GND is jovial.

Both have a share of the blame to take.

GND in the countryside

On the side of the PQ leader, his statements lack clarity. We launch an affirmation – a “threatened social peace” – without specifying too much what we mean. Is social peace threatened by our current thresholds? Are we heading towards a crisis linked to our immigration model? We do not really know.

On the side of the solidarity leader, we are more in politics than in good faith. We do a selective reading of what PSPP said. And we combine Jean-François Lisée’s crazy proposal on the transport of immigrants from Roxham by bus to Ontario, the words of PM Legault in the campaign and what the PSPP said.

The solidarity leader first speaks to his members.

He knows that a vote of confidence is hanging from his nose, and that the partial in Saint-Henri–Saint-Anne is coming – and that this speech appeals to the voters of this riding.

Political extremism

But back to the original question: what contributes to the rise of extremism?

If there is a disturbing rise of the extreme right, particularly in Europe, it is primarily due to extreme right politicians. These “identity entrepreneurs” point to immigration as the bedrock of all problems and use it as political fuel.

But stopping our analysis at that is short.

These politicians are needed, because the soil is fertile.

A European example: in Germany, the far right is rising from its ashes. Angela Merkel herself acknowledged that the reception of two million Syrians in 2015 may have created social tensions and contributed to the emergence of xenophobic parties. It is certainly not the fault of the new arrivals, but of political decisions. You have to be able to recognize it.

I wrote last week that progressives, including QS, should stop fleeing identity anxieties like the plague. I would go further: by dint of looking down on all identity claims, always associating them with xenophobia, we end up creating even more intolerance.


Will the Roxham Road situation create a backlash eventually – as PSPP seems to say? We must not exaggerate: this is not the case at present, even if our public services are under pressure.

But the situation in Roxham fuels an impression that our governments are allowing a situation to wither away. And this can contribute to fueling certain xenophobic discourse.

Another example that fuels tensions: the Trudeau government’s recent appointment of Amira Elghawaby to a post in the fight against Islamophobia.

In the “Quebec bashing” column, a specialty of English-Canadian newspapers, she estimated that “the majority of Quebecers harbor anti-Muslim sentiment”.

A nomination of this kind – always acceptable in the highest Canadian places – creates identity tension and fuels resentment. And, yes, contributes to the rise of extremes.

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