The concern was not about what people do. It was about what they are, about a characteristic they cannot change. The implication was that there aren’t enough of the right kind of people in Quebec, and too many of the wrong kind.
To put this in perspective, it’s hard to imagine mainstream politicians and commentators saying in 2017 that there are too many Jews in Quebec. But it was socially acceptable for them to say there are too many non-francophones.
It was a divisive message, telling the majority, once again, that its identity is threatened by enemies in its midst. And it told the linguistic minorities that it’s not enough to learn French and use it. Our simple presence here is the problem.