NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said today that, if he’s elected prime minister, he’d have to get involved in Quebec’s controversial secularism law if it makes it all the way up to the Supreme Court.
He also said this morning that he has no plans to intervene until then.
“One thing I want to make really clear is I don’t believe in interfering with the court decision right now,” Singh said Tuesday morning when pressed by reporters to clarify what appeared to be a shift in his stance.
“This is just a repetition of facts. When there is something that ends up in front of the Supreme Court, the government has the right to review what is going on. My position has not changed.”
During last night’s English leaders’ debate, Singh was asked if he was letting Canadians down by not taking a stronger stand on the controversial Quebec law — often referred to simply as Bill 21 — which bans certain public servants from wearing religious symbols at work.
In the post-debate scrum, the New Democrat leader said he would have to look at the law if it ends up being appealed before Canada’s top court.
“There’s been no prevaricating,” Singh said this morning, insisting he’s fighting the law in the court of public opinion in Quebec.
“I think about growing up and being told that I couldn’t be what I wanted because [of] the way I looked, and I know many people were told that they could not advance in their careers because of who they are. And now we’ve got a law that basically tells people exactly that,” he said.
“I’m going to Quebec on a regular basis, using my platform to say, ‘Hey, this is not the way to go forward.'”
Leaders clash on Bill 21
The federal party leaders have been grilled on the campaign trail about whether they’d challenge the law in court.
Last night, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said he was disappointed by Singh’s decision to not leave the door open to a federal court challenge.
“Yes it’s awkward politically, because as [Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-Francois] Blanchet says, [Bill 21] is very popular [in Quebec],” Trudeau said. “But I am the only one on this stage who has said, ‘Yes, a federal government might have to intervene on this.'”
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer also opposes the law, but has said it’s up to Quebec legislators to decide on this matter.
Singh took reporters’ questions Tuesday after talking to a group of voters about child care costs, student debt and high rent during a stop in Toronto.