According to Statistics Canada, unemployment rates for immigrants living in Québec in 2006 were significantly higher than for immigrants in any other province. For very recent immigrants, the unemployment rate in Québec was an estimated 17.8%. This was nearly three times as large as the Canadian-born unemployment rate in Québec (6.3%). For recent immigrants, the unemployment rate was still more than double the Canadian-born rate in Québec (13.4% vs. 6.3%). Such hard evidence doesn't lie; the Québécois are racists. That's what some people want to believe and it's kind of hard to argue.
Still, my personal experience is that Québec's society is generally curious and welcoming for minorities. I mean... that's what those I've met in school, at work or in my leisure time have been telling me. Although I've seen some discontent, I've never experienced it up close. Of course, there's the occasional "maudit [fill in the blank]!" here and there, but most of the time, it's more along the lines of an aggravating "Fatso!" than a true racist slur. I think the average Jean-Guy is more exuberant than the average Doug.
The Bouchard-Taylor hearings?... xenophobic you say?... maybe. But the media mostly focused on the controversy and some testimonies were consistent with my personal observations. Most clashes presented at the hearings were religious based, not of the racial type or out of fear of the stranger. Having booted the Catholic Church stronghold out of the public place less than 50 years ago, the Québécois know exactly where religion, whichever one, can lead some people.
The Québécois are worried about the 'purity' of their lineage?.... not sure either. Most have Amerind blood running down their veins and don't seem to mind it. In 2006, the Québécois, with a smaller population, adopted a third more non-Caucasian babies than Ontarians.
Intolerant?... probably not. In 2006, five census metropolitan areas had police-reported rates of hate-motivated crime that were well above the national average of 3.1 per 100,000 population. Calgary led with a rate of 9.1 incidents for every 100,000 population, followed by Kingston (8.5), Ottawa (6.6), London (5.9) and Toronto (5.5). Provincial comparisons of hate crime were limited to Québec, Ontario and British Columbia. Ontario was highest at 4.1 incidents per 100,000 population, followed by British Columbia (2.5) and Québec (1.4).
Immigrant unemployment rates is hard evidence that the Québécois are racists?... perhaps, but that's not the only explanation. Signed in 1991, the Canada-Québec Accord came on the heels of the failure of the Meech Lake Accord and largely accomplished what would have taken place in the area of immigration had Meech Lake passed. Similar agreements followed for other provinces, but the Canada-Québec Accord gives the province the most latitude. Is it possible that federal civil services are doing a better job at finding immigrant skills for the market needs?