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Engaging with Diversity

Multidisciplinary Reflections on Plurality from Quebec


Edited By Stéphan Gervais, Raffaele Iacovino and Mary-Anne Poutanen

Contributed by leading scholars of Quebec Studies, both emerging and established, the 30 essays of this comprehensive collection offer a multidisciplinary survey of the study of diversity in Quebec over space and time. The volume is organized around a variety of themes through which Quebec’s plural reality is expressed, including conceptual, historical and contemporary approaches, covering a wide range of social and economic cleavages, identity markers, political contestation and, broadly, the lived experiences of Quebecers negotiating difference over time. In an environment increasingly demarcated by conflicts around values and cultural and social practices, this collection hopes to contribute to broadening the spectrum of voices to the current debate, adding an inclusive reflection to a conversation that has only intensified over the last decade. Quebec as a pluri-national and multi-ethnic society has been and remains a great laboratory to study and to test public policies on ethnic diversity. It allows us to identify the tensions and to evaluate the balance between the majority and the minority; and between settler society and indigenous nations, in conceptualizing and finding a normative consensus around the configuration of collective rights. In short, the contributions in this volume seek to illustrate how pluralism has and continues to constitute the lifeblood of belonging in Quebec.

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“Sorry, You Don’t Fit the Profile”. Underemployment for Skilled Immigrants and Closed Borders for Asylum Seekers (Paul Eid)


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“Sorry, You Don’t Fit the Profile”

Underemployment for Skilled Immigrants and Closed Borders for Asylum Seekers

Paul EID

In an international context marked by neoliberal globalization, industrialized States compete fiercely to attract the foreign workers they require to fill specific employment niches. States view immigration as leverage to be mastered and used in a near surgical way to respond to labour shortages in some skilled and unskilled job sectors (Portes & Dewind, 2004). According to this logic, they must rigorously select applicants whose “economic worth” will yield maximum returns, especially on the job market (Sager, 2012). As for unskilled jobs, current programs for temporary foreign workers in Canada, as in most OECD countries, are emblematic of this logic: the State has developed temporary migration policies tailored to the needs of employers looking for cheap, vulnerable labour. In this article, we are interested in the province of Quebec’s policy for selecting skilled workers, which relies on the same utilitarian logic.

Since 1996, Quebec has been selecting its immigrants in the “skilled worker” category based on criteria designed to favour applicants deemed most likely to integrate successfully into society, particularly with regard to socio-economic integration. Yet a number of studies and data have shown that the socio-economic integration of recent Quebec immigrants (most of whom are racialized minorities1) is not only considerably more difficult overall than it is for people born in Canada but also more difficult when compared with...

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