Trudeau says it is not just governments that can fight Quebec’s secularism law

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says citizens, not just governments, have a role to play in ensuring the protection of fundamental rights after a Muslim teacher in Quebec is removed from office for wearing a hijab in class.

In an extensive year-end interview with Rosemary Barton, the CBC’s chief political correspondent, Trudeau defended his government’s response to Quebec’s Secularism Act, known as Bill 21, which prohibits government officials from wearing religious symbols. .

“I don’t agree and I always disagree with Bill 21,” Trudeau said in an interview that aired today. Rosemary Barton live. “I have also stated that I will not intervene in the legal proceedings in the future.

Depressed by Barton as to why his government limited itself to words rather than taking action against the law, Trudeau argued that defending rights is not just the job of governments.

“The challenge is to make people understand that fundamental rights need to be protected,” he said. “Governments can and should defend them and play their part in them, but our citizens can also defend for each other.

Trudeau said: “That’s what we see in Chelsea, where the community, where the families, where the children, where everyone says,‘ It’s wrong for a young Muslim teacher to lose his job just because he’s a Muslim. . ”

Chelsea, Que., Teacher fired for hijab

Fatemeh Anvari, a substitute teacher on the Western Quebec School Board for several months, said she had been asked to apply for a permanent position to teach a 3rd grade class at Chelsea Primary School.

Anvari began this work earlier this fall. But she said just a month later in her new position, the school principal told her she had to go on a business trip outside the classroom because she was wearing a hijab.

On Tuesday, about 150 parents, students and other members of the community in the small community of Chelsea, Que.

SEE Protests in Chelsea, Que. after the removal of a local teacher wearing a hijab:

Chelsea residents are protesting against Bill 21 after the primary school teacher was removed from the class

Lina El Bakir, a spokeswoman for the Canadian National Council for Muslims in Quebec, says Bill 21 faces the Quebec values ​​she grew up with. 6th grade student Ivan Krongold says it is important for all people to be able to express themselves. 0:41

“Many people in Quebec are now amazed at what happens in a free society when I tell a Muslim woman that she can’t keep her job because she is a Muslim,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau defended his government’s decision not to intervene in the case, saying Quebecers were already challenging the province in court and that it would first allow the process before taking any legal action.

The Prime Minister of Quebec is not inferior to the controversial bill

Earlier last week, Quebec Prime Minister François Legault said he did not understand how Trudeau could intervene in a challenge to a bill that is supported by a majority in the province.

“The 21 bills were voted democratically and supported by a majority in Quebec,” he said. “I do not see how the federal government can interfere in such a sensitive issue for our nation.

Legault said the law was not in conflict with the principles of a free and open society, “because people are free to wear a religious sign or not.”

Quebec Prime Minister François Legault campaigned for the idea for the bill until his government officially introduced it in 2019. Trudeau said he had not abandoned the idea of ​​intervening in a legal challenge, but stressed that fellow citizens also had a role to play. (Sylvain Roy Roussel / Canadian Radio)

Trudeau hinted that Quebecians’ attitudes to the bill could be relaxed now that they saw “not only a theoretical possibility, but also a concrete example that someone would lose their job” because they wore a hijab.

While Trudeau is not ready to join the legal battle over the bill, other governments are taking action. Earlier this week, the city of Brampton, Ont., Called on cities to join the legal fight against the law.

On Thursday, Toronto City Council unanimously voted for a $ 100,000 contribution to support a joint challenge to the law by the Muslim Council of Canada, the World Sikh Organization and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Trudeau argued that the debate over the bill is about defending rights, not about pitting one party against another.

“It’s not about Quebec and the rest of Canada,” Trudeau said.

“We are dealing with it,” says the prime minister on inflation

During the interview, Trudeau also addressed the issue of inflation. Opposition conservatives have ruthlessly attacked federal liberals for inflation, which has reached a 18-year high of 4.7 percent.

“It’s here and we’re dealing with it,” Trudeau said.

He pointed to the failure of global supply chains based on timely delivery as a driver of price rises.

“We need to build more resilience, so we’re investing in it,” Trudeau said.

The prime minister has also pledged to help Canadians facing financial hardship due to the pandemic and rising living costs.

“We’ve seen the need for more support for vulnerable people. We’re investing in it,” he said.

Increase health transfers to provinces

Trudeau also undertook to investigate how Ottawa finances provincial health care systems across Canada. The country’s prime ministers have long sought more funding to strengthen systems that were difficult to operate before the pandemic.

“I have said many, many times, ‘Let’s talk about funding our health care and increasing funding for health care,'” said Trudeau. “It simply came to our notice then.

According to him, the government’s actions to help the provinces during the pandemic prove that Ottawa is ready to do more.

Trudeau is more sorry about Tofin’s trip

Barton also asked Trudeau to reflect on the lessons he learned from his decision to spend a family vacation in Tofin, BC, the country’s first National Truth and Reconciliation Day.

Trudeau repeatedly apologized for taking a vacation instead of attending a ceremony at the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc in Kamloops, to which he had been invited.

“One of my biggest regrets is that the first days of truth and reconciliation were not enough for reconciliation and healing … for me,” Trudeau said of his indignation on his vacation.

“I’m not perfect. No one is there.”

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