Quebec goes in search of new (French-speaking) blood

Give me your huddled masses, yearning to have jobs and wide open spaces. Must be young, French-speaking and well-educated. Knowledge of ice-hockey an advantage.

This is the message which the Quebec immigration minister, Andre Boisclair, will bring to France next month when he leads the province's first ministerial recruitment drive in the mother country.

Mr Boisclair will visit Paris and several French regions to encourage young people to come to Quebec in a three-year plan to boost immigration. Belgium, Switzerland, and Franchophone North Africa will also be targeted, but Quebec is especially keen to increase French migration, now only 2,000 a year.

Quebec has 10.4 per cent unemployment, not much better than the rate in France. But it also has one of the lowest birth rates in the developed world and an ageing population. The Quebec authorities are determined to maintain a majority of French-speakers, partly for cultural reasons, partly to keep alive the dream of eventual separation from Canada.

- John Lichfield

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