Leaders Defend Quebecers As Questions About Discrimination Raise After Debate | The Canadian News

Federal party leaders defended Quebec against accusations of racism on Friday (one day too late, Québec bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet responded), as they hit the road again in hopes of seizing any post-debate momentum to as Canadians began voting in advance polls. .

No stranger to recent federal election campaigns, the controversial issue of secularism in Quebec reappeared in the English-language debate on Thursday, when Blanchet vigorously objected to a question from moderator Shachi Kurl.

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“All the contempt and misunderstanding of the CBC host towards Quebec Bill 21 and Bill 96,” the Bloc tweeted. “Luckily Bloc Québécois defends Quebec”.

Kurl asked about Blanchet’s support for “discriminatory” laws in Quebec, such as what is known as Bill 21, which prohibits some public officials in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols or attire. Blanchet, in turn, accused her of painting all Quebecers as racists.

Click to play video: 'Trudeau Says Question From Leaders' Debate On Racism In Quebec Was 'Unacceptable' And 'Offensive'

Trudeau Says Quebec Leaders’ Debate Question on Racism Was’ Unacceptable ‘and’ Offensive ‘

Trudeau Says Quebec Leaders’ Debate Question on Racism Was’ Unacceptable ‘and’ Offensive ‘

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and conservative rival Erin O’Toole at separate campaign events on Friday claimed Quebecers are not racist, while NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said it was useless in fighting systemic racism to point out. to any province or territory.

Click to play video: 'Canadian Elections: O'Toole Says Question From Quebec Racism Debate Is A Little Unfair' '

Canadian Elections: O’Toole Calls Quebec Racism Debate Question ‘A Little Unfair’

Canadian Elections: O’Toole Calls Quebec Racism Debate Question ‘A Little Unfair’

Quebec, with 78 seats, is a key battleground that could determine the outcome of the elections. At the time of dissolution, the Liberals had 35 seats in the provinces, the Bloc 32, the Conservatives 10 and the NDP only one.

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Quebec Prime Minister François Legault, for his part, called the question about Bill 21 and Bill 96, which proposes to strengthen the role of the French in Quebec, as “unacceptable” and an attack on the province. . He asked Kurl and the organizers of the debate to apologize.

The leader of the Quebec Liberal Party, Dominique Anglade, also denounced what she called an “attack on Quebec”, and tweeted a statement saying that the Quebec described by the moderators “is not our Quebec.”

“We are an open, free, strong and proud population that has frank discussions on sensitive issues and there is not always a consensus,” Anglade wrote. “These disagreements do not authorize anyone to speak of Quebec in that way. That speech does not take place, ”he said, referring to Kurl’s question formulation, which inferred that Quebec was a discriminatory province.

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READ MORE: Quebec Prime Minister criticizes Trudeau, says it would be easier to work with O’Toole

Both bills 21 and 96 have been criticized by human rights and civil liberties groups as discriminatory. Bill 21, which has broad support in the province, has been challenged in court, although the province has nevertheless used the clause preemptively to protect it from a challenge under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Blanchet defended both laws during the debate as legitimate and reflective of Quebec values.

He also objected how the issue of systemic discrimination had become “a political tool” to use against Quebec. “It became a tool to say that Quebec is this and that and racist and xenophobic and all that,” Blanchet said in the debate.

The only leader who challenged Blanchet during the debate was the leader of the Green Party, Annamie Paul, who invited the leader of the Bloc Québécois “to inquire about systemic discrimination.”

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Trudeau has previously spoken out against Bill 21, including during the 2019 federal elections, as well as the ban on face covering adopted by the Quebec government. That issue also featured prominently in the 2015 elections, when the former Conservative government reflected on banning the niqab for public officials. He reiterated his opposition to the secularism law on Friday.

However, the Liberal leader also said he was “puzzled” by the premise of Kurl’s question, saying during a campaign event in Hamilton, Ontario: “It is incorrect to suggest that Quebecers are racist. As a Quebecer, I found that question really offensive.

“Yes, there is a lot of work to be done to continue fighting systemic racism in this country and in all parts of this country. But I don’t think that question was acceptable or appropriate. “

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Trudeau made the comments when the Liberals announced that they were launching a new advertising campaign in Quebec.

O’Toole went further and promised that, as prime minister, he would never defy a law passed by a provincial legislature.

“Quebecers are not racist, and it is unfair to do that radical categorization,” said the conservative leader during an event in Mississauga, Ontario. “They have made decisions and laws approved by their national assembly. I will respect that. “

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Click to play video: 'Quebec Prime Minister criticizes Trudeau, says O'Toole would be easier to work with'

Quebec Prime Minister criticizes Trudeau, says O’Toole would be easier to work with

Quebec Prime Minister criticizes Trudeau, says O’Toole would be easier to work with

Singh, during a news conference in Ottawa, said that systemic racism and discrimination are not isolated to a province or territory, suggesting that one of the biggest examples is Ottawa’s failure to address the warnings of boiling water in First Nations.

“This is not a problem for any province or territory,” he said before flying to British Columbia to vote in an early poll on his driving. “It exists everywhere in Canada. And to address it, we have to recognize that it is everywhere and work together to eradicate it. “

Blanchet, who also voted in an early poll on Friday, accused the other three leaders of being too late to defend Quebec.

READ MORE: Trudeau plays defense as opposition leaders fight for points in the election debate in English

“I will let Quebecers measure the credibility of these renewed affections, which did not appear at the right time,” he said in French.

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She also defended the law, saying in English: “Religion has never protected the equality of women within the state and never will. We are not the ones who work thinking about discrimination ”.

Others were equally critical of Trudeau, O’Toole and Singh, but for different reasons: not to confront Blanchet and to clearly denounce Bill 21.

“When the other party leaders did not intervene to argue that Bill 21 does participate in an act of systemic discrimination, it is shameful,” said Mustafa Farooq, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, which is challenging the law in the Court. of Appeal of Quebec.

The founder of Canadians United Against Hate, Fareed Khan, accused Blanchet of being “angry” during the debate, adding: “I would say to Mr. Blanchet, if he were in front of me:” If you don’t want to be labeled xenophobic “. and a racist then does not support xenophobic and racist legislation.”

–With files from Alessia Maratta, Global News

© 2021 The Canadian Press


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