Quebec Mayor Reaches Out to French-Speaking Immigrants

News Agencies – March 17, 2011
Like small-town mayors everywhere, Stéphane Gendron is trying to entice newcomers to settle in his community. But he may be the only one whose enticement offers include a promise to build a mosque and halal slaughterhouse. Although open to all immigration, Mr. Gendron says, he’s especially keen on courting people from the French-speaking Maghreb region of North Africa.
Mr. Gendron’s campaign, though mostly based on intentions for now, is being called La Grande Séduction, after the hit movie about a Quebec village’s all-out attempts to lure a family doctor to set up in town. And the seduction campaign in Huntingdon, a former mill town an hour’s drive southwest of Montreal, is badly needed. The town of 2,587 has lost about half its population since the 1970s, mainly through the departure of Anglophones, and it then fell on hard times after the closing of its textile plants. Like small towns and villages across the province, its population is aging.