Quebec government passes contentious immigration bill in early-morning vote

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The Quebec government has passed a contentious immigration bill in an early-morning vote of 62 to 42.

The legislation gives the province's immigration minister more authority over who receives permanent residency in the province.

It also allows the government to cancel roughly 18,000 immigration applications, some from people who have waited in limbo for years as their files languished under the old system, meaning those applicants will have to start the process over again.

Including the applicants' families, the fates of some 50,000 people wishing to emigrate to Quebec were at stake.

Critics say the Coalition Avenir Quebec government has provided "no credible explanation'' to eliminate the applications, but Premier Francois Legault said yesterday that Bill 9 is needed to better meet the needs of Quebec's labour market.

Before breaking for the summer, the legislature is slated to continue sitting today to debate Bill 21, controversial secularism legislation that would ban public servants including teachers, police officers, Crown prosecutors and prison guards from wearing religious symbols on the job.
    (The Canadian Press)<