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Premier not backing down

Quebec Premier Francois Legault is holding firm on his plan to scrap thousands of pending immigration applications, meaning 50,000 people would have to restart the application process from scratch.

Legault's statement comes just before the province's immigration reform bill is expected to pass on Saturday, despite pleas from the opposition.

Speaking with reporters ahead of a rare weekend session in the National Assembly to fast-track Bill 9, Legault said the old selection criteria do not meet the needs of the labour market. Those affected would have to submit another application under a new system, known as Arrima, put in place by the former Liberal government last September.

The legislation would give the immigration minister more authority over who receives permanent residency in Quebec. It would also allow the government to cancel roughly 18,000 immigration applications, some from people who waited in limbo for years as their files languished in the old system.

On Saturday the three opposition parties sought to derail the legislative session, with the speaker rejecting arguments that a motion introduced by House Leader Simon Jolin-Barrette does not respect the spirit of 2009 reforms stipulating a parliamentary gag order can target only one bill. Before breaking for the summer, the legislature is slated to sit through the weekend to debate Bill 9 and Bill 21, a controversial secularism bill that would ban public servants including teachers, police officers, Crown prosecutors and prison guards from wearing religious symbols on the job. The legislative mechanism of closure allows the government to end debate and use its majority to force a vote.



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