Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette, the Quebec government's point person on Bill 21, its controversial ban on religious symbols in the public service, has taken on another key portfolio: language.
Premier Francois Legault adjusted his cabinet Wednesday morning, announcing that Jolin-Barrette - who was minister of immigration, diversity and inclusiveness - becomes minister of immigration, francization and integration.
The government is creating a new ministry by merging the immigration and language files, a recommendation in the 2016 Samson report. The CAQ's goal with it is to focus on the francization of immigrants.
Jolin-Barrette takes over the language file from fellow minister Nathalie Roy, who otherwise maintains the culture and communications portfolios she held prior to Wednesday's shuffle.
Legault said that during the election campaign, the CAQ promised to be a nationalist government, and that there are three pillars to that plan: language, culture and education.
Legault recently met with former Quebec premier Pauline Marois, who expressed her concerns about the status of the French language.
When asked if the new measures conflict with Legault's outreach efforts to anglophones, Legault said it's doesn't.
"I think that people, including the anglophones, now agree with Bill 101. They agree that new immigrants have to learn French. It's a question of survival in French in Quebec. So the only thing we're talking about is mainly how to apply Bill 101," he said.
Legault said these adjustments to his cabinet will make the government nationalist agenda stronger and more coherent, adding that nothing has been ruled out yet – but it's too early to say if there are plans to re-open Bill 101.