Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe on the niqab, Thomas Mulcair, and Anglophones in Quebec

Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe on the niqab, Thomas Mulcair, and Anglophones in Quebec

Main pic: Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe speaks to the media. Quebec City Hall, Fri 25 September, 2015. Photo credit: Ruby Pratka.

Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe met with mayor Régis Labeaume and local media on Friday at City Hall.

Duceppe’s party held a majority of seats in the province until it was nearly swept off the map by the New Democratic Party in 2011’s ‘Orange Wave’. Respected polling site threehundredeight.com said yesterday that his party may not obtain any seats in the coming election. However, Duceppe said he could ‘feel a change in the wind’ regarding public perception of his party. ‘I’m in contact with people, my candidates on the ground are in contact with people, and I won’t play the prophet, but we’ll see what happens on election day.’

‘Quebecers are realizing that the NDP isn’t necessarily [acting] in the interests of Quebec,’ said Duceppe.

‘Thomas Mulcair continues his double-talk on the subject of the Energie Est pipeline— in English he says it’s a win-win and in French he says he may be against. He continues to be in favour of the niqab, when Quebecers are against.’

Much of the press conference centred on the niqab debate, in light of a recent Supreme Court case involving a woman who did not want to remove her niqab while taking the oath of Canadian citizenship. ‘Mr. Harper wants to ban the niqab during citizenship ceremonies, we want to go further and demand that all public services be given with the face uncovered,’ Duceppe said.

There are no definitive statistics on the number of women in Canada or Quebec who wear the full face veil, although a UQAM specialist in world religions has estimated that around 50 women in the Province of Quebec wear the veil. For the Bloc, however, one is too many.

‘It’s a dangerous game to deny the fundamental equality between women and men and to ask women to disappear from the public sphere. There, Mr. Mulcair and Mr. Trudeau are playing a very dangerous game.’ Mulcair and Trudeau have both spoken out in favour of a woman’s right to wear the veil during the oath of Canadian citizenship, provided she removes it beforehand to prove her identity.

‘Ninety-one per cent of Quebecers are against [the niqab]. Mr. Labeaume, [Montreal mayor Denis] Coderre, and Mr. [Jean] Tremblay, the mayor of Saguenay, are all against it. The Quebec National Assembly voted against it unanimously.’

Duceppe says he and Labeaume, who did not take questions, addressed the niqab and local infrastructure issues during their discussion. ‘We did speak about the Quebec Bridge, and the Bloc Québécois has been working on that for years. The federal government needs to buy back the bridge.’

Duceppe accused the Liberals and NDP in the rest of Canada of vote-splitting. ‘The Liberals and the New Democrats take votes from each other in the rest of Canada and it’s there that Harper wins,’ Duceppe said. ‘That’s why they have a majority. When [a strong Bloc] was there, they had a minority.’ He said the Bloc would ‘clearly research what the parties think and write’ before deciding who to back in the event of a coalition government.

He called on anglophones to consider voting Bloc. ‘All Quebecers are Quebecers without exception,‘ he said. ‘What I have to say to Anglophones is, there’s no place on earth where a linguistic minority is more respected than Quebec respects anglophones, and we’re proud of that, although we do have one common public language which is French. That’s the result of Bill 101, which has endured repeated attacks from Alliance Quebec, who were once represented by a certain Thomas Mulcair.’

Categories: News, Politics

About Author

Ruby Pratka

Ruby Pratka grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, studied in Ottawa and took the roundabout way to Quebec City via Russia, Slovenia, France, Switzerland, Belgium and East Africa. In addition to writing for LifeinQuebec.com and Life in Québec Magazine, she also contributes to other media outlets in English and French. She enjoys keeping a close eye on international affairs, listening to good music and singing in large groups.

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