Quebec solidaire co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.
John Kenney / Montreal Gazette
QUEBEC — Hearings into the government’s new immigration bill broke down in confusion even before getting started Thursday, with groups cancelling their appearances and politicians accusing each other of acting in bad faith.One day after Quebec’s immigration lawyers filed a request for an injunction to halt plans by the Legault government to invalidate 18,000 immigration requests, Coalition Avenir Québec and Liberal politicians took turns blaming each other for the quagmire.Words like “bad faith,” “preposterous” and “ludicrous” were flying, leading Québec solidaire house leader, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois — who has a ringside seat watching the two parties in the ring — to say they are “fighting like cats and dogs.”“Ludicrous,” added interim Parti Québecois leader Pascal Bérubé.“It’s the Liberal Party that is obstructing the good operation of the legislature,” Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette told reporters arriving for daily question period.He said the new immigration bill — which includes a clause empowering Quebec to shred the old files — was tabled two weeks ago and the Liberals have been dragging their feet on which groups would be invited to comment on it before a legislature committee ever since.“It’s not easy working with the Liberals,” said Jolin-Barrette. “They refuse to put a bit of water in their wine to ensure the legislature works.“If we want it to work we need good will, we need good faith. I am ready to accommodate as much as possible but the Liberals need to understand they have to co-operate in a Parliament with four parties.”Not so, responded Liberal interim leader Pierre Arcand, blaming the Coalition Avenir Québec government. He said the government appears to want to turn the immigration hearings into the same spectacle as the hearings over the last two weeks over the cannabis bill.“I have never seen in the history of the legislature a committee so useless, where the government dug in its heels and didn’t even respond to people who questioned its logic,” Arcand told reporters.“We are now embarking into a judicial imbroglio (on the immigration issue), which is harming Quebec’s international image. The government can’t act in good faith on this issue because it’s ideology prevents it.“It wants to hear from groups saying its bill is good. We want a cross-section.”He noted the Liberals showed a day earlier that it would be possible for the government to process the 18,000 backlogged applications at the same time as proceeding with its reform bill, but it refuses.On Wednesday, Liberal immigration critic Dominique Anglade revealed despite the CAQ’s claim it is impossible to process the requests, immigration bureaucrats processed 20,361 applications in total during 2018.The total number of applications dropped from 38,500 to 18,139, Anglade told the House.Meanwhile, the legislative process to adopt Bill 9 is stalled. The list of witnesses to comment on the legislation has been in constant flux, with clerks handing out update after update all week.The city of Quebec was supposed to address the committee first Thursday, only to cancel, as did another group.At the last minute the government tried to replace the groups with an appearance by the Barreau du Québec, which answered that with 24 hours notice, they did not have enough time to prepare a brief.As of 11 a.m. Thursday the two sides were still squabbling. When Jolin-Barrette proposed a delay to his opening remarks because there were no groups available to appear after him, the Liberals email@example.com/philipauthier