MONTREAL — An independent Quebec would deal more quickly with asylum seekers and would not afford them the same rights as a citizen, Parti Quebecois Leader Jean-Francois Lisee said Tuesday.
The party’s position on border security can be found in a series of leaflets and videos aimed at promoting independence and educating the electorate.
The PQ made the documentation public in advance of a convention this coming weekend where Lisee will have a confidence vote on his leadership.
Border security is a major talking point in the province, as thousands of people, mostly from Haiti, have crossed illegally into Quebec from the United States since June and applied for refugee status.
“The Supreme Court of Canada has decided that as soon as you have your foot on our territory, you have all the rights of a Canadian citizen,” Lisee said.
That statement is not entirely true, as refugee applicants are not entitled to vote or to hold a Canadian passport.
Asylum seekers do benefit, however, from an appeal process that can extend their stay in Canada significantly even if they are denied refugee status.
If Quebec separated from Canada it would not sign the Safe Third Country Agreement, allowing asylum seekers to cross at regular channels instead of trudging through forests, Lisee said.
He added an independent Quebec would draw inspiration from European countries, where an applicant’s asylum status is considered different from that of a citizen and the process moves far more quickly.
“In other countries asylum seekers are considered asylum seekers and not citizens,” Lisee said.
Other issues in the PQ’s leaflet and video project on independence include taxes, agriculture and pipelines.
A sovereign Quebec would get to keep the money its citizens give to Ottawa and put it toward the public pension plan. Lisee said Quebec leaving Canada would mean it could fight more strongly for its agricultural sector and be able to veto any pipeline project crossing over its territory.