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Canada Amid political gamesmanship, some Quebec Muslim women enticed by offer to move to Manitoba

17:47  29 november  2019
17:47  29 november  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

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some Quebec Muslim women enticed by offer to move to Manitoba . She said the Manitoba government's ad campaign attempting to lure Quebecers is more than gamesmanship . In 2018, for example, only 341 people moved from Quebec to Manitoba (and 799 went the other way).

The demographics of Quebec constitutes a complex and sensitive issue, especially as it relates to the National question. Quebec is the only province in Canada to feature a francophone (French-speaking) majority, and where anglophones (English-speakers) constitute an officially recognized minority group.

As a political spat plays out between Manitoba and Quebec over Bill 21, some Muslim women affected by the province's ban on religious symbols say they are tempted by the offer to move to the Prairie province.

Seeba Chaachouh, a third-year law student at Montreal's McGill University, says she felt her options shrink after the legislation was passed into law earlier this year. She said the Manitoba government's ad campaign attempting to lure Quebecers is more than gamesmanship.

Relocating is something she will seriously consider upon graduation.

"If this persists, and as a result of this there are more hate crimes against me and my people, then why wouldn't I? Why wouldn't I go somewhere where I feel welcome?" said Chaachouh, who wears a hijab.

Challenge to Quebec's secularism law, Bill 21, begins in Appeal Court

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Muslim women in Canada are cast as the blackest of political demons, the most frightening of ghosts. Willful ignorance of my personal story and the personal stories of my fellow Canadian Muslim women allows for politically expedient narratives that chill the blood and quicken the pulse.

MANSO acts as a voice for the Manitoba settlement and integration sector, as well as supporting our members through communication, networking and professional development activities.

"I know that if I go there, they will look at my skills rather than what I am wearing on my head."

The ad campaign launched Thursday is aimed at Quebecers who feel limited by the province's secularism law, which prohibits public servants in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols. These include the hijab, skullcap and turban.

In a nod to Bill 21, the ad lists 21 reasons why Manitoba is an appealing place to move, ranging from its diverse population to its plethora of provincial parks.

There isn't, in fact, much history of movement between the two provinces. In 2018, for example, only 341 people moved from Quebec to Manitoba (and 799 went the other way).

A better solution: no Bill 21

Chaachouh is under no illusions a government ad means she would be safe from discrimination in Manitoba.

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– Women ’s Empowerment Workshops: Muslim women will get to participate in workshops covering a wide range of topics catered to their needs and interests — from financial security, sexual health, and public speaking, to coding, self defense, compassionate parenting, and Islamic art.

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At the very least, though, Chaachouh said it is encouraging to see a province take a stand against the legislation, while Ottawa has shied away from doing the same.

The Manitoba government's campaign was dismissed as a political ploy by Premier François Legault and much of the opposition in Quebec City.

Legault said Bill 21 will ensure secularism in the public sector, and that the law is "a decision to be taken by Quebecers and Quebecers only."

a person posing for the camera: Seeba Chaachouh, 24, is a law student at Montreal's McGill University who says she will seriously consider moving to Manitoba thanks to the province's ad targeting Quebecers who feel limited by Bill 21. © Provided by cbc.ca Seeba Chaachouh, 24, is a law student at Montreal's McGill University who says she will seriously consider moving to Manitoba thanks to the province's ad targeting Quebecers who feel limited by Bill 21.

But Shahad Salman, a lawyer who runs a public relations firm in Montreal, said the message appealed to her as well.

"The fact that they used 21 reasons — that made me laugh," she said.

"I think it's an interesting move from another province: They take something bad happening somewhere else and turn it into a good thing for them."

Quebec politicians tell Manitoba to butt out of Quebec's secularism policies

  Quebec politicians tell Manitoba to butt out of Quebec's secularism policies QUEBEC — Manitoba would be better off spending its money improving services for its francophone minority instead of buying ads in Quebec newspapers to try to woo away workers frustrated with Bill 21, Premier François Legault said Thursday.  But the Parti Québécois has also plunged into the interprovincial squabbling, with interim party leader Pascal Bérubé sending a letter to the editor of the Calgary Herald responding to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s attacks on the equalization payment system.

According to Canada's 2011 National Household Survey, there were 1,053,945 Muslims in Canada, or about 3.2% of the population, making Islam the second largest religion in the country after Christianity.

The 500 Most Influential Muslims (also known as The Muslim 500) is an annual publication first published in 2009, which ranks the most influential Muslims in the world.

Salman, 32, said she would consider such a move. But a better solution? "Not having Bill 21," she said.

The legislation is facing multiple legal challenges.

Critics say it infringes on a person's right to practice their religion, and disproportionately targets Muslim women who wear a headscarf.

In a Quebec Court of Appeal hearing earlier this week, civil rights groups argued the law is causing immediate and irreparable harm.

"People's lives are being ruined. People are being forced to leave their professions. People are being forced to leave this province," Catherine McKenzie, a lawyer representing the groups, told the court.

Fighting inside Quebec

Nour Farhat, a 28-year-old Montrealer who recently completed a master's in criminal law, is involved in one of the legal challenges.

She says the law thwarted her dream of becoming a Crown prosecutor in Quebec.

She said the Manitoba ad was like "a breath of fresh air," and such a move is appealing.

a group of people walking on a sidewalk: Members of the National Council of Muslims leave the Quebec Court of Appeal in Montreal on Tuesday, where they are challenging Quebec's Bill 21. © Provided by cbc.ca Members of the National Council of Muslims leave the Quebec Court of Appeal in Montreal on Tuesday, where they are challenging Quebec's Bill 21.

But Farhat, who works in litigation, has no plans to leave.

"Why can't I be this person here, where I was born and raised? Why do I have to go to the other side of the country to realize my dream?" she said. "This is why I won't go to any other province — because I want to be able to do this here in Quebec."

a woman sitting at a table posing for the camera: Nour Farhat is a Montreal lawyer. She had dreams of becoming a Crown prosecutor before Bill 21 became law. © Provided by cbc.ca Nour Farhat is a Montreal lawyer. She had dreams of becoming a Crown prosecutor before Bill 21 became law.

PQ leader invokes Louis Riel in call for Manitoba to mind its own business on Bill 21 .
OTTAWA — The interim leader of the Parti Québécois invoked the 1885 hanging of Louis Riel on Friday as evidence that Manitoba has no business criticizing Quebec for its controversial secularism law. Pascal Bérubé said Manitoba should reflect on its own history when it comes to the protection of minorities, a day after a new $20,000 ad campaign launched by Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister drew criticism from Quebec leaders for taking aim at Bill 21.

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