Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

PQ wants full immigration control for Quebec

From the Gazette:

Quebec should have total control over its immigration to send a clear message to newcomers that the province is a francophone state, not a bilingual one, Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois said on Tuesday[...]

Marois believes Quebec needs to attract more immigrants, especially to cope with a declining birthrate and employment needs, but she stressed the province has to send a very clear message to those who decide to settle in Quebec.

"Many of them believe that they are settling in a bilingual state. It's not true. Quebec is a francophone state that respects the rights of its anglophone minority. And when you live in Quebec, you live in French," Marois stated.

She pressed Premier Jean Charest to negotiate with the federal government to gain control over the 40 per cent of immigrants to the province that it does not already handle. Under a 1991 agreement, Quebec can choose the immigrants who have money to invest here and decide how it integrates them. But Ottawa keeps dealing with refugees and immigrants coming to reunite with family members.

Marois argued it's fair to ask for that since Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government recognized Quebec as a nation. Having additional powers would allow Quebec to choose immigrants that will more easily blend into Quebec's culture and values, Marois added.


That last bit is a clever if probably-inevitable reverse-judo attempt. Harper defanged the "nation" question by embracing the word; the PQ can't afford to let that be as free of consequences as Harper would like it to be.

Notice that the PQ is not only playing to traditional themes here. It's also trying to recapture the part of its base that it lost to the anti-immigrant ADQ in the last election-- partly by playing on a subtle distancing between Montreal and the rest of Quebec. Montreal is clearly ground zero of bilingualism in the province, as well as being ground zero of the non-francophone new immigration. The ADQ objects to Montreal as a place and the new immigrants as a group, though language isn't its primary issue. If the PQ can pick up on the rural voters' annoyance at immigrant-heavy Montreal, it may not much matter whether the annoyance is cast as a language issue rather than a religion or race issue. This will be a tricky balance for the traditionally Montreal-francophone-elite centered PQ, but is absolutely necessary for them to figure it out.
I had just been thinking...

about what a shame it is that Phi Beta Cons, National Review's blog ostensibly about higher education, is such an embarrassing waste. The idea of a consistent source of conservative commentary on higher education, written by people who can distinguish between good and bad research, and who are invested in and knowledgeable about higher education, is quite appealing. It seems to me like something that's genuinely missing from the world. But, of course, PBC none of these things. It is instead dedicated to arguing that professors have too much vacation time except that they're all busily whittling away at the foundations of western civilization, that the successful firing of a fraud-committing tenured professor shows the importance of abolishing tenure, that standards of excellence are under mortal threat from the multiculturalist left but shouldn't be compared in importance to, say, fraternities and the need to admit football players, and that affirmative action (for blacks who are not football players) is the very worstest yucky thing in the world, ever.

Then I noticed that it was Inside Higher Ed, and not PBC, that was carrying the following news item-- something that would be of interest to a large number of conservatives who are interested in higher education:

Hillsdale College, which for more than 20 years has declined to accept federal funds, said Monday that it would no longer take financial aid money from the state of Michigan either, The Detroit News reported. Hillsdale officials said in a statement that they would relinquish about $670,000 in state tuition aid that about 350 students at the private institution receive annually and replace the money with private scholarship funds.


Not a huge deal-- but since Hillsdale is both a minor cause celebre among American conservatives for its rejection of federal funds and a longtime patron of conservative thought, the people most likely to find it interesting and important would be PBC's likely readership. Instead, the blog is busy with Candace de Russy's response to the (well-known and correct) argument that the humanities and most social sciences are over- and badly-regulated by Institutional Review Boards that inappropriately apply standards derived from biomedical experiments to all research involving "human subjects."

Her response? The rhetorical "But is there too much oversight or too little?" followed by an non-sequiter about inadequate oversight... of three biomedical studies.

Update: Phoebe Maltz suggests that the problem is structural, that there probably couldn't be such a venue for responsible conservative commentary on the academy. I think she's onto something but that it doesn't have to be as bad as PBC...
Inuit reach deal with Quebec

The Montreal Gazette:


ELIZABETH THOMPSON, The Gazette

Quebec's Inuit have reached a landmark agreement in principle with Ottawa and Quebec City to create an Inuit-controlled government covering the northernmost third of the province.

It will be unlike any other level of government in Canada. Answerable to Quebec's National Assembly, the Nunavik Regional Government will encompass not only the functions normally assumed by a municipality but also those of a school board and a health authority.

"It's quite unique," said Jean-Fran├žois Arteau, chief negotiator for the Inuit-run Makivik Corporation. "We'll have real elected officials taking real decisions for issues regarding Nunavik residents."

Arteau said the deal should be instrumental in helping the Inuit take charge of their own future and find the solutions best adapted to their communities.

For example, when it comes to a problem such as youth protection or suicide prevention, the new government will be able to adopt a comprehensive strategy that encompasses both education and social services, he said.

The regional government will also have the power to allocate resources where it believes they are most needed, he said.

For example, money can be allocated to address the area's housing shortage instead of being locked in to such specific programs as small business creation. "With the same amount of money, they will be able to do better and manage it more efficiently."

[...]

While contained in only 25 pages, the agreement in principle sets out a detailed blueprint for the Nunavik Regional Government, which will govern the territory north of the 55th parallel, even further north than the giant James Bay hydro-electric site.

The existing Kativik Regional Government, the Kativik School Board and the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services will be amalgamated to create one regional government. It will be run by a Nunavik Assembly, consisting of at least 21 elected members including representatives of each of the territory's 14 communities. An executive council, consisting of five members of the Assembly and headed by the Leader of the Executive Council, will carry out decisions reached by the Assembly.

While the Nunavik Regional Government will have the power to impose property taxes in addition to money it will continue to receive from Quebec and Ottawa, it will not have the authority to collect income or sales taxes. Arteau said the second phase of the agreement, yet to be negotiated, will deal with such issues as royalties for mining in the mineral-rich territory.


Hmm. Good news, but I'm uneasy. There's no mention of any legislative authority, and the reference to municipal powers makes me suspect that legislative authority will be extremely weak and-- more important-- at the ongoing mercy of the Quebec National Assembly. Indigenous self-government can be a powerful force, but there's a constant danger that the indigenous government will become little more than the local branch of social workers and social service administrators controlling the use of funds allocated elsewhere. I'm reminded of the failed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission in Australia, and policies there that amounted to self-administration, not self-government.

Development as such doesn't seem to be anybody's priority. (While I don't think that small businesses are best fostered with subsidies, it's a bad sign when that's the only example of something that's not worth spending money on, with no discussion of what the better ways to foster them would be.) And it's worrisome to have resource royalties be punted when that would be one of the chief local sources of revenue.

But I'll provisionally file it under "good news as far as it goes," especially on the basis that a unified level of Inuit government might simply provide a more powerful political voice and focal point for political strength than has existed before. (This is an argument about why even weak and apparently doomed-to-be-unsuccessful indigenous self-government is probably worth having in an essat in Nomos from a couple years ago.)

Update: there's a map in this story.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Poli sci on SSRN

There's now a political science research network for working papers on SSRN, with lots of distinct subfield subject-matter lists. You can browse through them here.