NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh appeared on Quebec’s flagship talk show, Tout le monde en parle, Sunday night, saying he shares Quebecers’ values on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.
Host Guy Lepage asked Singh his take on the province’s new religious symbols law, climate change, People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier and the recent scandal involving Justin Trudeau in blackface.
“I share the same values as Quebecers,” Singh said. “I’m for abortion, for same-sex marriage.”
He described himself as “someone who fell in love with the French language in an English city. I want to be an ally and I will be an ally for Quebec.”
Lepage pointed out Singh is the first racialized person to lead a federal party in Canada and asked his perspective on the Trudeau blackface photos.
“I’ve fought against racism with my hands,” Singh said. “Not everyone is able to fight back.”
He said Trudeau’s decision to wear blackface was bad judgment.
“For many people it brings up memories of things that happened in their lives,” Singh said.
When asked about the law formerly known as Bill 21, which would prevent public employees from wearing religious symbols — such as Singh’s turban — at work, the NDP leader assured Lepage he’s aware of Quebec’s “competence” in that file, but that he’s against laws that divide the population.
“I think the job of a politician is to find ways to bring people together,” Singh said.
However, he said an NDP government would not join legal challenges to the law.
Singh repeated that he doesn’t think Bernier should take part in the televised leaders debates.
He said it was a difficult decision to make, since he believes in free expression. But Bernier goes too far.
“There’s a moment that it jumps from exchange of ideas to promotion of hateful and divisive ideas that increase tensions,” Singh said. “We must not give a platform to a person who divides the population.”
In regard to the environment, Singh said his party has several proposals ideas to create jobs while reducing emissions, such as ecological renovations for buildings.
He said it was a bad decision for the Liberal government to purchase the Trans Mountain Pipeline and that an NDP government would not go ahead with its expansion.
After the Orange Crush
Singh wants to at least hold his party’s Quebec seats. NDP support has slumped since Jack Layton’s Orange Crush in 2011, when the party took 59 of the province’s 78 seats.
CBC’s poll tracker suggests the party has, on average, only 8.8 per cent of the vote in the province, while the Greens had 8.7 per cent as of Sunday evening.
Tout le monde en parle, a highly popular weekly talk show, has become a key campaign stop for politicians seeking to sway the province’s francophones.
The NDP platform for the province promises more powers on portfolios including the environment, language, immigration and justice.
Singh says he wants his party to be “an ally to Quebec and the French language.”