Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he is planning to challenge a decision for the first time, by banning public employees from wearing religious symbols, in front of the province of Quebec, on Friday. This statement comes before the upcoming elections. Quebec holds 78 of the 338 seats in the House of Commons and is highly important for Trudeau’s Liberals and his Conservative rivals, who are in a desperate look for gains in the predominantly French-speaking province in an Oct 21 election.
In June, when the Quebec law came into force that restricts teachers, judges and police officers from wearing overt religious symbols such as hijabs and Jewish skull caps. The government claims that the law helps to keep the society secular while the critics charge it is a racist measure aimed at the province’s Muslims. Prime Minister Trudeau said it would be counterproductive for Ottawa to make a move now, noting court challenges against the law have already been launched in Quebec.
For the very first time, Trudeau marked a clear change to make a successful move in the future. He told a media agency that he is not trying to close the doors on intervening at a later date, as he thinks that it's rather irresponsible. He said that he won't ever try to play with people’s fundamental freedom, he continued, adding that in a free society people should not allow discrimination to occur.
Due to upcoming elections, the issue is highly sensitive for Trudeau as he needs to prove that he will always stand up for fundamental human rights while not alienating Quebec voters, as it could cost him with votes and support.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said in a televised debate on Thursday night that if he were elected, he would not challenge the Quebec law. The new law poses a particular problem for Jagmeet Singh, a practicing Sikh who leads the minority left-leaning New Democrats. His fortunes have plunged in Quebec amid questions over whether voters there would back a man who wears a turban.