Secularism law: Trudeau and Blanchet exchange arguments and insults in the Commons

Stung by the Bloc leader’s attacks in the House, the Prime Minister delivered a fiery plea against Quebec’s law on the secularism of the state on Wednesday.

Justin Trudeau defended a teacher, hired since the law came into force, who could not keep her job because of her hijab. And then, he attacked the clauses of Quebec law which also prohibit judges and police from displaying their religious beliefs.

Until then, the Prime Minister had simply said that he was personally opposed to the law, that Quebecers were challenging it in court, and that eventually his government could get involved, but not at all. suite.

And he had focused his criticism on the examples of the ban imposed on teachers.

Wednesday afternoon he went much further than that.

“In Quebec, we defend freedom of religion. This is why there are so many Quebeckers who are surprised and disappointed to see the young Fatemeh Anvari, a teacher, lose her job because she is Muslim, ”he told Yves-François Blanchet who reproached him for the exit of his ambassador to the UN against the Quebec law.

Last weekend, Ambassador Bob Rae wrote on his Twitter account that the law is “deeply discriminatory.” Mr. Blanchet is calling for his recall to Ottawa.

“This teacher has not lost her job. He could stop repeating lies, ”railed the Bloc leader, moving away from parliamentary language for good. Mr. Blanchet took care to point out that Ms. Anvari was “hired and assigned to a class after the adoption of Law 21”.

And while the leader of the Bloc suspected him of being “afraid of Quebec public opinion” which is mostly in favor of the law, the Prime Minister repeated that the Bloc only wanted “to sow a dispute between the federal and the provincial” .

“Quebec and Canada are already secular societies. We do not ask questions about the religion of a police officer or a judge […] Any religion someone practices in [sa] personal life should not prevent him from practicing a profession, “thundered Mr. Trudeau in one of his many statements, the crescendo of which always led to the same conclusion: we cannot legislate to” make someone lose the job. one who is muslim because she is muslim [sic] ».

Conservative status quo

The desire of some Conservative MPs to advocate a harsher line against Quebec’s secularism law has not borne fruit – for the moment.

British Columbia MP Mark Strahl said at the start of his caucus meeting on Wednesday morning that he hoped the party would condemn this law in clearer terms.

He even went so far as to say that a Conservative government should intervene in legal proceedings relating to the law, while pointing out that many of his colleagues agree with him.

“We must speak as a team, but it is also important to recognize provincial jurisdiction and the judicial process in Quebec. And this is an important question for Quebec and the National Assembly, ”said Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, leaving his caucus on Wednesday.

Its Quebec MPs have confirmed that their dissenting colleagues have failed to change the party line on this matter.

“There are those who have their personal opinion, but the position is clear. Mr. O’Toole has always been clear on this. It is a law that we would not make here at the federal level, but it was Quebec that made the decision. We respect the constitution and the jurisdiction of Quebec in that. That’s all, ”said Pierre Paul-Hus.

“As in Quebec, there are people who are for, there are people who are against Bill 21. […] I am aware that, in my caucus, there are people who have different opinions, such as Quebeckers, ”added Alain Rayes, Quebec lieutenant to Mr. O’Toole.

When he left caucus a few hours later, Mr. Strahl refused to speak to reporters. No more than his Ontario colleague Kyle Seeback who, however, had broken the party line by denouncing the law of Quebec in a noticeable outing on Twitter a few days before.

MP Seeback wrote on Twitter that he could no longer, “in good conscience”, remain silent on this issue and that it should be opposed in the courts and even in the streets. He was seconded by his colleagues Jasraj Singh Hallan, Lianne Rood, Jamie Schmale, Chris Warkentin and Mr. Strahl, among others.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also toughened his stance on Tuesday by saying his party was ready to go to court to challenge the law.

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