The Conservatives and the BQ are in a hard dance, vying for numerous same votes in Quebec and finding themselves in near-agreement over the surprise hot button cultural issue of the campaign: banning veils during citizenship ceremonies.
But it quickly veered into a heated exchange between Harper, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair about women’s rights – everything from abortion to gender equality to the number of female candidates.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, seeking a rare fourth consecutive term, had 34 percent support in an Angus Reid poll released on Thursday, compared with 27 percent support for the rival Liberals and New Democrats.
“The reason we’re focused on what we call violent acts of disloyalty against Canada like serious terrorist crimes, high treason or acts of war against Canada is because those are an expression of the renunciation of someone’s citizenship”. Since 2013, it has committed more than $60 million in support to prevent child and forced marriage in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and passed the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act, which makes it illegal for anyone under 16 to get married, blocks anyone in a polygamist relationship from immigrating to Canada, limits the use of provocation as a criminal defence for so-called “honour” killings, and prevents the removal of children from Canada to marry.
Both lines of attack have been used against Harper since he took over leadership of the Conservatives in 2004.
“We need to stand up for our values”, said Alexander. The Conservatives have been promoting their ban on wearing niqabs at citizenship ceremonies – it was overturned by the courts but they are fighting it – particularly in Quebec. “A resurgence of intolerance, a resurgence of discourse that is at points xenophobic, racist, hateful, and against the Muslim community” and comments about Syrian refugees. Kenney dismissed any connection between the incident and the Conservatives’ niqab stance.
For weeks polls had shown a three-way tie between the major parties, raising the specter of political instability after the election and market instability that could affect the Canadian dollar, already sitting around 11-year lows.
A pair of teens tore the headscarf from a pregnant woman in Montreal this week, causing her to fall on the ground. Kenney brushed aside that concern and said it is “common courtesy” that people taking an oath of loyalty to the country do so by not wearing a face covering.
It’s a “very important” issue to all Canadians, Alexander said. Kenney also said he found it “bizarre” for former Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien to welcome the help of Russian President Vladimir Putin to fight Islamic fighters. “This practice of face covering reflects a misogynistic view of women which is grounded in medieval tribal culture”, Kenney said.
Still the presumed front-runner in the province, Mulcair spent much of the debate reassuring his large francophone audience, hoping to plug what appear to be growing leaks in the NDP vessel’s made-in-Quebec hull.
“I think it’s weird that the Liberal party is out there regarding Vladimir Putin as an ally”.
The attack is just the latest this year across the country and “comes at a time when inflammatory rhetoric targeting Muslims has been heightened by a federal election campaign in which Muslim women who wear the niqab have been vilified by politicians”, Ihsaan Gardee, the council’s executive director, said in a statement.