The federal party leaders have inflamed the issue of wearing the niqab at citizenship ceremonies during the first debate in French on Thursday night, while accusations of wanting to fill up votes on this delicate issue abounded everywhere.
They debated vigorously in the future of health care, medical help to die, national unity, the economy and the crisis of Syrian refugees on Thursday night in the first debate in French the election campaign. But it is the issue of wearing the niqab which led, by far, the most heated exchanges between Stephen Harper, Thomas Mulcair, Justin Trudeau, Gilles Duceppe and Elizabeth May.
And for good reason: this delicate matter, propelled to the forefront of the campaign last week after the Federal Court of Appeal had overturned a law prohibiting the wearing of the niqab during the delivery ceremony of oath of citizenship, has strong echoes in the polls in recent days.
While the Conservative Party promised to legislate to correct this breach caused by the decision of the court in the first 100 days if returned to power, the NDP leader Thomas Mulcair accused Conservative Leader Stephen Harper to use this “weapon of mass distraction” to forget his record on job creation and the fight against climate change.
“Mr. Harper is trying to hide his record behind the niqab. 00 400 jobs lost in manufacturing, it does not want to talk. 300,000 more unemployed today than when the crisis hit in 2008. This too does not want to talk. It is behind this issue that divides so. It’s just that Mr. Harper is pushing this issue because he sees an advantage. And I’m so surprised to see the Bloc Quebecois, a party once so progressive, embedded in the arena, “said Mr. Mulcair, who opposes the measure preservatives.
“When we joined the Canadian family, we should not hide his identity. Mr. Mulcair, I will never tell my girl a woman should hide her face because she is a woman, “retorted Harper.
“Tackle the oppressor. Do not attack the woman, Mr. Harper. You are playing a political game, “said Mr. Mulcair before trade between all heads turning into cacophony.
The Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who opposes, like MM. Mulcair and Trudeau, to such a ban, then tried to put things in perspective by launching this sentence: “This is a false debate in the countryside. We have real issues. What is the impact on the economy of the niqab? What is the impact of the niqab on climate change? On the unemployed? All this is a distraction to avoid the debate on the real challenges. ”
Recalling that the National Assembly and various mayors of Quebec also claim that these ceremonies are conducted openly, the Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe replied that the principle of equality between men and women “is not a distraction “but” a fundamental question. ”
“We know very well why we have this discussion. Mr. Harper and Mr. Duceppe want to play on fear and division again. If a man can not impose its will on how a woman dresses, you can not have a state that imposes how a woman should not dress. I understand that this is an issue that makes people ill at ease. For me, a State is to defend the rights of minorities and women, “for its part says Justin Trudeau.
The issue of national unity has also unleashed passions. Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe argued that the issue in a possible referendum should be clear “? Do you want Quebec to become an independent country” This question, he said, should be accepted by the rest of Canada. Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau were then crossed swords on the majority required to win a referendum. Trudeau accused his NDP opponent to be unworthy of the premiership by accepting the majority of 50% plus one.
During this portion of the debate, Stephen Harper argued that this issue is far from being the priority of Quebecers who are more concerned, he said, the economy and security.
Asked to say whether he supports medical help to die, Harper, however, avoided answering this clear question, saying the federal government should amend the Criminal Code to allow for a decision of the Supreme Court this moral issue. Gilles Duceppe called on Ottawa to draw on the law passed by the National Assembly in this matter.
During the debate, Justin Trudeau defended himself using “an old recipe” by offering to invest heavily in infrastructure to support economic growth, even record $ 10 billion in deficits over the first three years. The Liberal Party is the only party to promise and plunge the country back into deficit.
Stephen Harper jumped at the opportunity to accuse his Liberal opponent of wanting to fall back into the rut of permanent deficits, which will inevitably, he said, lead to painful cuts or significant tax increases.
For its part, the NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair found himself in the hot seat because of his promise to reopen the constitution to abolish the Senate, an “archaic and outdated” institution.
“We can not reopen the constitution not to mention the demands of Quebec and First Nations and other provinces,” said Mr. Duceppe.
“I do not understand Canadians who want to revive the constitutional negotiations,” for its part says Harper.
Mr. Duceppe participating in his first debate of this long campaign. Bloc strategists were counting on a good performance on his part to give a boost to the party’s campaign.
After crossing the iron last night, heads back To the countryside today, but only for the weekend. For two other debates are scheduled next week. The first bilingual, organized by the Munk Debates will be held Monday in Toronto. Only three leaders will participate, either Stephen Harper, Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau. The final leaders’ debate of the campaign – organized by TVA and French – will then take place Friday. Only Elizabeth May will be absent from the last debate.