PQ to Trudeau: don't compare us to American racists
The Parti Quebecois isn't pleased with being compared to U.S. segregationists — especially by someone named Trudeau.
Several PQ cabinet ministers expressed their annoyance over remarks by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.
At an event yesterday, Trudeau used the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's " Have A Dream'' speech to lambaste the proposed Charter of Quebec Values.
"Oh, my god,'' said Bernard Drainville, the minister responsible for the Charter of Quebec Values.
"I think he should make a little bit of an effort to elevate the debate — instead of lowering it. I don't think it is helpful to get into this line of argument. I think we should try to have this debate in a respectful manner — even if we disagree sometimes.
"There's a little bit of contempt in that and I don't think it helps the debate.''
At a partisan rally the previous night, Trudeau said that 50 years after King fought against the notion of second-class citizens, there are still people in Quebec who would reduce others' rights.
Trudeau said: "These days when you reflect on the 50th anniversary of that magnificent speech by Dr. King, who was fighting segregation, who was fighting discrimination, who was rejection the notion that there are second-class citizens, you see that unfortunately even today, when we're talking, for instance, about this idea of a charter of Quebec values, there are still people who believe you must choose between your religion and Quebecois identity, there are people forced by the state in Quebec to make irresponsible and inconceivable choices.''
And thus began the last chapter in the long, acrimonious history between the Parti Quebecois and federal Liberal leaders named Trudeau.
Three ministers, asked about the remarks at a caucus retreat today, urged Trudeau to keep the debate respectful instead of deepening divisions.
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Alexandre Cloutier described King as an inspiration to Pequistes, as well. Trudeau, meanwhile, appeared to inspire his frustration.
"I don't think Mr. Trudeau has any lessons to give to Quebecers,'' Cloutier said.
"You have to remember that his father patriated the Constitution without Quebec's consent. He does not act as a leader. He should ask his people to have an open-minded dialogue — and not put pressure on divisions.
"He's definitely adding words of division.''
The proposed PQ charter would reportedly restrict public employees' right to wear religious clothing like hijabs, kippas, turbans and visible crosses. However, the plan has not been publicly presented yet and will need some opposition support to get through the legislature.
Polls suggest the idea is popular in Quebec — although it's unclear how high of a priority it is for voters there.
In Quebec, the oppsition Liberals are resisting the idea, which they deride as a PQ attempt to distract from economic issues.