Political scandal and religious symbols in the battle in Outremont

Scandale politique et signes religieux dans la bataille à Outremont

Julia Sanchez, a candidate of the New democratic Party (NDP) in the by-election Monday in Outremont, argues that the residents of his constituency speak to him about climate change, wealth inequality, and sometimes… of the turban worn by the leader of the party.

The leader of the NDP, Jagmeet Singh, is sikh and wears a turban, which makes it ostensibly religious in a province strongly secular. Her French is also lower than his two predecessors at the helm of the NDP, which complicates his task to seduce the voters of quebec.

Even in the multicultural district of Outremont, in the heart of the island of Montreal and within one of the largest jewish communities of the ultra-orthodox in North America, the turban of Mr Singh’s concern some voters.

In an interview recently, following a debate between the candidates in the electoral district, Ms. Sanchez acknowledged the existence of these concerns, saying that the issue does surface from time to time in the door-to-door, but that this is “certainly not the main thing that people raise”.

Having attended this debate, Kathryn Furlong said he voted for Ms. Sanchez, a senior economist with experience of humanitarian action and of activism for the climate, at the advance poll. The woman, 43-year-old has indicated that it has voted for the liberal Party of Canada (LPC) in the past, “but never by conviction”, and “sometimes” to avoid that the conservatives do take power.

It feels sad that anyone would have a problem with the expression of the faith of the leader of the NDP, and adds to believe that the political parties in Quebec are exploiting this issue for partisan purposes.

Outremont is represented by the NDP since the victory in a partial, in 2007 the former party leader, Thomas Mulcair, in what was long a fortress of the liberal party.

Mr. Mulcair resigned last August and is now a visiting professor at the University of Montreal and political commentator. The NDP is currently in fourth place in polls in Quebec, far from her heights when Jack Layton helped the party to win the majority of seats in the province in 2011.

Charles Taylor on the popularity of Jagmeet Singh

The philosopher at McGill University, Charles Taylor, long-time supporter of the NDP, who campaigned with Ms. Sanchez prior to the election, argues that the tepid reception to the place of Mr. Singh up to now in Quebec is due to the fact that he still has no seat in Parliament. Mr. Singh is the candidate for one of the other two by-elections Monday, in the riding of Burnaby South, British Columbia.

According to Mr Taylor, once the leader has obtained a seat in the House of commons and will be more regularly in front of the cameras, Quebecers will learn to love it, because currently it is very invested, but it is not often on tv.

The Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) won the provincial election last fall with the stated intention to prohibit some public-sector workers, including teachers, from wearing religious symbols at work. But Mr. Taylor says that Mr. Singh will argue the fact that a person “can wear this kind of clothes and be a perfectly reasonable”, and believes that Quebecers are willing to hear such a speech.

The importance of Outremont for the liberals

Although a defeat for NDP on Monday in Outremont would overwhelm even more the party in the province, the liberals of Justin Trudeau will no doubt have more in-game.

The PLC currently has 39 seats in Quebec and 179 at the national level. Polls indicate that the support of the liberals has declined across the country since the voting of 2015, and that Mr. Trudeau hopes to make gains in Quebec in order to keep the majority of his party in the general election next fall.

Outremont – where 36% of residents are immigrants, and 66 % of the people are bilingual, is the kind of riding that the liberals must wager to maintain their good results in Quebec.

Rachel of the three brothers, a lawyer and former chief of staff, has finished second behind Mr. Mulcair in 2015. His party regularly polls in the province since the last election. However, in recent weeks, controversies have been raised regarding allegations that the prime minister’s office wrongly pressured the former minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould, to help the giant SNC-Lavalin to escape criminal prosecution.

The company established in Montreal, is accused of corruption and fraud in the context of its dealings in Libya. A conviction could lead to job losses and make it vulnerable to takeovers by foreigners.

Ms. of the three brothers argued that they are journalists, and not the people she meets when she knocks on doors in the district, who ask questions about SNC-Lavalin.

Tom Boushel, 72 years, volunteer liberal that will drive seniors to polling stations Monday, said that the issue on SNC-Lavalin would not have as much impact in Quebec than elsewhere in the country. “Quebecers are sensitive to the risk of loss of jobs,” says Mr Boushel, adding that Montrealers appreciate the prestige of a global company having its headquarters in their city.

The by-election in Outremont is also the first test for the Bloc québécois, under the leadership of its new chief, Yves-François Blanchet, who has been elected by acclamation in January. The Bloc hopes that its candidate, the author Michel Duchesne, will help the party to become a major player in the district.

Jasmine Louras, a law student from the University of Ottawa, represents the conservatives, while James Seale, a veteran of the canadian armed Forces, is a candidate for the popular Party of Canada Maxime Bernier.

For its part, the green Party has one of its deputy chiefs, Daniel Green. It was also presented to the by-election in the federal riding of Saint-Laurent in 2017. He had then completed the third row, getting 8 % of the votes cast.

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