PQ leader Lisée hardens positions on language, sovereignty, asylum seekers

Parti Quebecois Leader Jean-François Lisee says an independent Quebec would deal more quickly with asylum seekers, but would not afford them the same rights as a citizen.

The party's position is in a series of leaflets and videos — part of a campaign called "50 +1 Answers for Independence" — aimed at promoting independence and educating Quebecers.

Lisée was in Montreal Tuesday to present the first series of seven capsules that dealt with the benefits of a sovereign Quebec as it pertains to topics including border management, health-care financing, pensions and pipelines.

The border position states an independent Quebec would not sign the Safe Third Country Agreement, allowing asylum seekers to cross at regular channels instead of trudging through forests.

Lisée says the lengthy time to process applications — as long as three years — is due to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision to grant those seeking asylum most of the rights of a Canadian citizen as soon as they arrive in the country.

He says 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.

Meanwhile, Lisée indicated during a news conference that while he rejects the idea of banning francophones from attending anglophones CEGEPs outright, he does favor some limits.

Lisée says that anglo CEGEPs exist primarily to offer post-secondary education for anglos, which he calls an "inalienable right". But, he says, he doesn't want it to be an "open bar" for francophones.

He's not ruling out the idea of limiting funding for anglo CEGEPs.

Lisée, who replaced Pierre Karl Péladeau as PQ leader last October, faces a leadership review at a party convention this weekend. Since he took over the job, the party has slipped to third place in several recent polls, having been overtaken by the CAQ.

-CJAD 800's Richard Deschamps contributed to this report.