Photo: Jacques Grenier On Duty
According to the regulation, the photograph attached to the declaration of candidacy “must provide a front view in full of the candidate from the shoulders, head-discovery.”
The Director general of elections of Quebec (DGEQ) is considering a regulatory change deemed discriminatory by several parties since it would prevent some people, such as the veil or the turban of the sikh, to stand for election, learned The Duty.
Training policies such as the green Party and Québec solidaire, who would like to present such candidates, veiled, have been lobbying with the DGEQ, Peter Reid, and the minister of Reform of democratic institutions, Kathleen Weil, for modifying this regulation.
“All voters should have the right to be present. But it is clear that at the present time, having regard to the regulation of the DGEQ, a part of the electorate of Quebec is still not right, ” said Alex Tyrrell, leader of the green Party of Quebec, which is not in its first battle in the folder.
In march 2014, Fatimata Sow, whose face is framed by a hijab, wanted to run for the green Party in the riding of La pinière, but its application had been refused by the DGEQ of the time, Jacques Drouin. According to article 6 of the Regulations of the declaration of the nomination, the photo attached to the nomination paper, ” shall provide a front view in full of the candidate from the shoulders, head, discovery […] “.
Despite her disappointment, Mrs. Sow had not wanted to oppose the settlement, because she didn’t want to be the center of attention of the entire campaign and at the heart of a debate over his legitimacy to be present.
The leader of the green Party was soon writing to the returning officer of The Pine — riding that was finally delighted Gaétan Barrette to the mp, outbound, Fatima Houda-Pepin — the application of this regulation was discriminatory.
“Your verbal request to provide a photo of our candidate, “with hair visible,” goes against the freedom of religion ” enshrined in the charters of rights and freedoms in canada and quebec, he wrote in a letter dated 18 march 2014 of which The Duty has obtained a copy.
Mr. Tyrrell does not hesitate to speak of ” systemic discrimination “. “They bluntly answered that the regulations should apply, and that nothing could be done,” he said, adding that Quebec is the only one to hold such a regulation, which does not exist at the federal and municipal level.
It also reminds us that while hats are not allowed on the photos of the driver’s license, insurance card and passport, exception is made for the hats that are worn daily for religious or medical reasons.
Volte-face of the DGEQ
The DGEQ, Pierre Reid, has confirmed the Duty that it would review its rules. The approach of the general elections, it is in the process of “re-evaluating the electoral material,” including the nomination form and the photo, explained the spokesperson Alexandra Reny.
On the 12th of October last, at a meeting with members of parties not represented in the national Assembly, Mr. Reid was, however, categorically refused to amend the article 6 of the Regulations of the declaration of candidacy, that the electoral Law forces them to comply.
“He tried to tell us that there was nothing he could do and that it was the law that was supposed to be changed, but me, I answered that no, the DGEQ can use his discretion to change the regulations,” explained the leader of the green Party.
Present at the meeting, Éric Émond, whose party Change integrity for our Quebec city (FIVE) has already wanted to submit female candidates wearing headscarves, was astonished by this “non-categorical” served by the DGEQ. According to him, article 6 of the Regulation is simply not the road.
“It takes away the right to any Quebecers to be present. It is illegal, you can’t do that “, he launched. “It would mean that if you are a woman like Malala [Nobel peace Prize 2014], you would not be able to tell you. It removes a huge potential in Quebec ! ” laments there. It points to the fact that with such a regulation, Jagmeet Singh could not put his candidacy in the provincial election, not more than a person who has lost her hair after chemotherapy, for example, and who would like to wear a bandana on his head naked.
Kathleen Weil sought
The office of the minister for the Reform of democratic institutions, it is specified that the DGEQ has “all the powers” to change its rules and does not need to have recourse to the national Assembly.
“The DGEQ has [this] possibility. He has everything in hand to acting, it is up to him to do if he wants to, ” said the Duty Laurence Tôth, press attaché of minister Kathleen Weil.
The firm confirms to have been approached on the subject a month ago by the member for Québec solidaire Manon Massé, and then have made the necessary checks. “Our leaders have arrived at the conclusion that the law already allows to change the regulations. The pressure must be on the DGEQ directly. The minister cannot act for him, ” continued Mrs. Tôth.
Last march, the leader of the green Party was arrested Kathleen Weil on the subject — it was the then minister of Immigration and member of parliament for the riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grace — and had been able to meet with a member of his cabinet, who assured him that the situation was taken seriously.
“It’s been almost a year and I’ve never had new, even if I have recalled many times,” said Alex Tyrrell. He revived the Ms. Weil two days ago in a letter to him stressing the urgency of acting at the approach of the elections of 2018.
At the present time, if nothing is done by the elections, ” anyone who wears a religious symbol will have to spend his campaign to fight for the right to stand as a candidate instead of being able to defend his ideas “, if it is sorry in her letter.