Canada: Day one of federal campaign shows linguistic divide on SNC-Lavalin, secularism law - PressFrom - Canada

CanadaDay one of federal campaign shows linguistic divide on SNC-Lavalin, secularism law

12:00  12 september  2019
12:00  12 september  2019 Source:

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OTTAWA — The federal election campaign is officially underway, with the first of 40 days dominated by two issues the governing Liberals would have preferred to avoid: the SNC - Lavalin affair and Bill 21, the Quebec secularism law .

SNC - Lavalin Group Inc. is a Canadian company based in Montreal that provides engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) services in various industries including; mining and metallurgy

Day one of federal campaign shows linguistic divide on SNC-Lavalin, secularism law Canada's PM Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau leave Rideau Hall in Ottawa

Day one of the federal election campaign revealed a national divide along linguistic lines on the campaign's key issues even in an era when the debate over Quebec sovereignty is largely dormant.

While English-language journalists pressed Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on the SNC-Lavalin affair and claims that his government is frustrating an RCMP inquiry, their French-language counterparts all but ignored the subject — focusing instead on his professed opposition to Bill 21, Quebec's secularism law that forces public servants to remove religious garb while on the job.

In retort to Trudeau, Quebec's premier asks federal leaders to 'stay out' of secularism law forever

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Day one of the 2019 federal election campaign kicked off this morning when Liberal Leader Justin After a brief speech at Rideau Hall, reporters asked Trudeau about the SNC - Lavalin affair and a The SNC scandal shows that Canadians should be looking for a change of government, Scheer said.

SNC - Lavalin affair, Quebec secularism law dominate launch of federal election campaign . Scheer begins the 40- day campaign with polls suggesting the Conservatives are essentially tied with the Liberals and the NDP and Greens are fighting for third.

While "deeply opposed" to the law, Trudeau said Wednesday it would be "counterproductive" for him to intervene now to try to challenge a law some have branded as blatantly unconstitutional. "I'm very pleased Quebecers themselves are challenging the bill before the courts," he said.

It was much the same for Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer. The English questions centred on the new Globe and Mail report about the government's alleged deployment of cabinet confidentiality on the SNC-Lavalin file, which is supposedly hampering the work of the police.

From the French contingent following the Tory leader, again, no questions about SNC-Lavalin — but much talk about an apparent shift in Scheer's position on Bill 21.

Quebec media sought to clarify what Conservative Party of Canada would do in response to Bill 21, which has been described as xenophobic by many in the rest of Canada.

Federal election campaign to officially kick off Wednesday

Federal election campaign to officially kick off Wednesday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will officially kick off the federal election campaign with a visit to Rideau Hall at 10 a.m. ET Wednesday, Liberal sources have told CBC News. Trudeau will formally ask Gov.-Gen. Julie Payette to dissolve Parliament, setting the stage for Canada's 43rd general election on Oct. 21. The Liberals are seeking a second four-year mandate, citing the party's accomplishments on child poverty, job creation and Indigenous relations while beating back criticism over the SNC-Lavalin ethics breach.

+ The SNC - Lavalin scandal is back in the headlines as federal party leaders kick off the first day of the election campaign . Shortly before the launch of the campaign , the Globe and Mail published a report saying the federal government is blocking attempts by the RCMP to look into the SNC - Lavalin

Only 1 SNC executive charged. SNC - Lavalin avoided charges by signing what is known as a When shown a copy of the letter from the Commissioner of Canada Elections to the Liberal Party with the 18 All of the former SNC - Lavalin employees and spouses named in the list who spoke to The Fifth

While he has always opposed the law in the past, Scheer has also said it's the prerogative of Quebec legislators to decide on this matter. He didn't offer that level of detail today.

"It's not something that our government, our party would ever consider at the federal level. We will always stand up for the rights of Canadians and the rights for expression and the rights of freedom of religion," he said at Ottawa's airport Wednesday morning.

Speaking to reporters later in Trois-Rivières, Que., Scheer refused to say whether he thinks the law infringes on religious rights.

His Quebec lieutenant, Conservative MP Alain Reyes, strongly supports the law.

'Two solitudes'

The term "two solitudes" was coined by novelist Hugh MacLennan in the 1940s to describe the lack of harmony between English and French Canadians and the disconnect between the two cultures on issues of the day, notably conscription during the First and Second World Wars.

Christie Blatchford: Why Trudeau can dodge the two key campaign issues

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SNC - Lavalin faces accusations it paid bribes to obtain government business in Libya – a criminal Watch: SNC - Lavalin 's history with corruption allegations. The company unsuccessfully pressed the The company said it provided the prosecutor's office with information showing the objectives of the

SNC - Lavalin faces charges of fraud and corruption in connection with nearly million in payments made to Libyan government officials between 2001 and This amendment, which SNC - Lavalin had lobbied the government to introduce, would allow companies accused of certain economic offences

The SNC-Lavalin affair has certainty penetrated the Quebec consciousness — but popular opinion on the issue there is considerably different from popular opinion in the rest of Canada.

For one, the company is a pillar of corporate Quebec, celebrated for its record of innovation and engineering marvels.

Trudeau's stated defence on the SNC-Lavalin file — that he was simply trying to stave off a bankruptcy to protect the company's many workers, an argument he repeated Wednesday — resonates with some Quebecers who fiercely defend their homegrown corporate success stories. Talk of takeovers by Canadian or international interests (see: Rona, Alcan) tends to rattle Quebec nationalists.

In English Canada, the company's reputation has been marred by allegations of gross corporate wrongdoing in Libya and its subsequent lobbying activities to have the federal Liberal government introduce a deferred prosecution regime to settle the matter out of court. The scandal, which claimed the prime minister's senior adviser and two cabinet ministers, dominated English political media for the better part of four months in the first half of this year.

At least 3 teachers remove religious symbols at work under Quebec’s secularism law

At least 3 teachers remove religious symbols at work under Quebec’s secularism law Bill 21 prohibits public-sector employees in positions of authority — including teachers, police officers and judges — from wearing religious symbols while at work. The controversial legislation was tabled in March and passed into law in June. It includes a grandfather clause that grants employees the right to keep their religious symbols, but prevents them from taking on different positions. While the CSDM initially came out swinging against Bill 21, the school board changed its tune in August.

A front-page story about the SNC - Lavalin affair cast a pall over Justin Trudeau's Liberal campaign Quebec Premier Francois Legault urged the leaders to keep the law off the federal agenda, and to The NDP launched their campaign Wednesday in London, Ont., one of the regions of the province

SNC - Lavalin affair, Quebec secularism law dominate launch of federal election campaign . As the ethics probe showed , Trudeau and PMO staffers and at least one of his senior ministers (Finance Minister Bill Morneau) and the former clerk of the privy council Michael Wernick all leaned

According to the CBC's Poll Tracker, the affair pushed down support for the Liberal Party among leaning and decided voters — but nearly all that movement happened outside of Quebec.

And while English Canada has largely embraced the tenets of multiculturalism — including the principle that new immigrants can become Canadian while also retaining some of the cultural traditions of their native lands — Quebecers have been decidedly more sceptical about the concept. The term of choice in the province is "interculturalism," which champions the idea of immigrants integrating into the majority French-Canadian culture.

The Bouchard-Taylor commission of 2008 fuelled a debate in that province about "reasonable accommodation" and how far the Quebec state should go to make ethnic and religious newcomers feel at home.

While that landmark commission recommended some public servants — notably judges, police officers and prison guards — be barred from wearing religious garments like the niqab and the kippah on the job, the current provincial government has gone further still, demanding that virtually all public servants — including teachers — go to work without wearing religious symbols — like the turban worn daily by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

Federal party leaders set to dive into Day 2 of the election campaign

Federal party leaders set to dive into Day 2 of the election campaign OTTAWA — With that new-campaign-bus smell still fresh, federal party leaders are heading out for Day 2 of the 43rd general election. The excitement had been palpable Wednesday with all parties eager to get going on convincing Canadians their path is the right one to choose come the Oct. 21 vote. And all framed the campaign as one that will feature both direct promises to help Canadians, but also be about bigger picture issues. "Canadians have an important choice to make — will we go back to the failed policies of the past or will we continue to move forward?" Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said.

The SNC - Lavalin controversy shows the gravitational pull of the Trumpian side of that spectrum. “ I stressed the importance of protecting Canadian jobs and reiterated that this issue was one of significant national importance,” Trudeau said on March 7 in a public address in which he recounted a Sept.

+ OTTAWA — SNC - Lavalin warned federal prosecutors last fall about a possible plan to split the company in two, move its offices to the United States and eliminate its Canadian workforce if it didn’t get a deal to avoid criminal prosecution, newly obtained documents show .

'That's hurtful'

Singh said it's sad that a person like him, the leader of a party vying for power, could not teach schoolchildren in Quebec.

"It's now a law to discriminate (against) people because of the way they look. That's hurtful. I'm hoping that my presence in Quebec as someone who clearly has a turban, has a beard — maybe he's got nice, long hair as well — is a way to show people that, 'Hey listen, I believe in fighting for your identity,'" Singh said at a campaign stop in London, Ont.

The law is hugely popular among francophone Quebecers, who believe it will protect the "laïcité" — the "secularity" — of the state.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-François Blanchet launched his campaign in Quebec City today promising to fight for a religiously neutral state — an echo of Quiet Revolution-era, when Quebecers began to dismantle the Roman Catholic Church's considerable control over public life.

Like Gilles Duceppe before him, when he held forth on the issue of the niqab in the 2015 election, Blanchet will try to paint federalist party leaders as insensitive to Quebec particularities.

That's likely why Trudeau walked a fine line Wednesday at his campaign kickoff. Aware that his party is poised to make gains in the province (if current polls are to be believed), Trudeau has said he opposes the bill but will leave it to others to challenge its constitutionality in the courts.

"I don't think we should be legitimizing or allowing discrimination against anyone," Trudeau said in French. "We are following, very carefully, the process."

Scheer also danced around the issue. While eager to bring new Canadians into the Conservative fold in the rest of Canada, Scheer is also courting soft nationalist voters in rural Quebec who support Bill 21.

Federal NDP want voters to hear they're 'In it for You' on the campaign trail.
Federal NDP want voters to hear they're 'In it for You' on the campaign trail

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