You should cut your turban off: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is confronted in Montreal – CTV News

\You should cut your turban off\: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is confronted in Montreal - CTV News
Jagmeet Singh challenges man who urged him to cut off his turban
MONTREAL — The topic of New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singhs turban has already come up a few times during this federal election campaign, but rarely as explicitly as it did Wednesday in Montreal.

As Singh, a practicing Sikh, toured Montreals Atwater Market during a campaign stop, he was confronted by an elderly man who made his disdain for Singhs turban quite clear.

Singh on Tuesday told the Canadian Press that he wouldn’t get into details of what the two party leaders discussed in that conversation, stressing he didn’t want to use it for political means, but said apologies are not enough and broader policy change is required to combat systemic racism and discrimination.

Jagmeet Singh confronted by man who tells him: Cut your turban off

Singh did not skip a beat in responding. "Oh, I think Canadians look like all sorts of people," he said. "Thats the beauty of Canada."

"Eh, but this is Canada – you can do whatever you like," Singh replied before walking away.

That legislation banned the wearing of visible religious symbols by civil servants in positions of authority and quickly emerged as a sleeper issue in the federal campaign as both Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer have refused to commit to a court challenge of the bill.

Singh has spoken at length during this campaign, and long before it, about his experiences as both a racialized Canadian and a Sikh, and the racism that it has exposed him to.

Identity issues are a recurrent part of the political discourse in Quebec, which has recently passed a secularism law banning some state employees, including teachers and police officers, from wearing religious symbols at work.

I have faced that my whole life," he said Wednesday morning in Montreal in response to a reporters question about whether his turban is an issue for Quebec voters. "I grew up in Windsor and Toronto and Saint Johns, Newfoundland and Labrador, and weve got beautiful communities that are welcoming and loving but in all those communities, theres also been systemic racism that exists across Canada.

Singh told reporters that he, like many Canadians, has faced racism and systemic discrimination in communities all across Canada, but hes confident in being able to move beyond the prejudice to highlight common values.

"So theres always been challenges for people based on who they are and I am not a stranger to that. I face prejudice myself, but many Canadians do and Im confident though that if we go past those prejudices that we can actually find so much that we have in common and we can build a better Canada where we focus on how we solve problems as opposed to our differences."

NDP would allow new parents to receive full EI benefit over shortened leave, Singh says

A campaigning Jagmeet Singh had a public encounter today with a man in Montreal who urged the NDP leader to "cut off" his turban to "look like a Canadian."

Im hoping that by being in Quebec and saying Hey listen, I got a turban and a beard and Im out here talking about loving the language, fighting against climate crisis, investing in people, investing in universal medication for all, that people could see you know what maybe it isnt a good idea to have divisive laws that discriminate people based on the way they look, he said.

Singh was engaging prospective voters at Atwater Market this morning in front of media cameras and reporters when he was approached by the man.

Weve got beautiful communities that are welcoming and loving, but in all those communities, theres also been systemic racism that exists across Canada, he said. So theres always been challenges for people based on who they are and I am not a stranger to that I face prejudice myself as many Canadians do.

WATCH: Cut off turban to look like a Canadian, racist man tells Singh in Montreal

"You know what? You should cut your turban off," he said. "You'll look like a Canadian."

When asked about his decision at a press conference on Wednesday, Singh said he didnt want to interfere with a court challenge by two civil rights groups that is currently before Quebecs Superior Court. He said he hoped his presence in the province would serve as an argument against the bill, however.

Singh talks universal child care, flexible parental benefits at campaign stop in Vancouver

"Oh, I think Canadians look like all sorts of people," Singh replied. "That's the beauty of Canada."

Its 2019, and that means that election campaigns are taking place as much on Twitter as they are in the real world. The Canadian election has already seen a lot of action on social media, and the party leaders are not slowing down. Recently, Jagmeet Singhs Twitter seemed to feature a tweet from the NDP leader that some think might have been a shot at Trudeaus feminist credentials.

Video: NDP leader told to cut off turban while campaigning in Montreal

Speaking to reporters earlier in the day, Singh once again addressed the issue of Quebec's controversial secularism bill ahead of tonight's TVA  leaders' debate.

The four leaders invited to the debate are expected to address Quebec's Bill 21, which would prevent public employees from wearing religious symbols — such as Singh's turban — on the job.

“Our goal is to get to universality, which is no cost for families that cant afford it and low cost, like a $10-a-day cost, for those who can to make it affordable and make it accessible by 2030,” Singh said in Vancouver, according to Global News.

Video: Livestream request: Jagmeet Singh on the campaign trail | Day 22

"I'm hoping that by being in Quebec and saying, 'Hey listen, I got a turban and a beard and I'm out here talking about loving the language, fighting against climate crisis, investing in people, investing in universal medication for all,' that people can see … maybe it isn't a good idea to have divisive laws that discriminate [against] people based on the way they look," said Singh.

The Liberals have also pledged to extend EI benefits for parents who adopt and to increase the Canada Child Benefit for children under a year old. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has argued that benefit mirrors a similar program introduced by a previous Conservative government that saw all families, regardless of income, receive monthly payments.

Singh, the first member of a visible minority to lead a federal party, will take the stage tonight with Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

Video: Jagmeet Singh on the campaign trail | Day 21

Singh, who faces significant pressure to defend his party's seats in Quebec, already has said an NDP government wouldn't challenge Quebec's religious symbols law in court — but he hopes his own public identity can change Quebecers' minds about wearing religious symbols.

The cafe meet-and-greet came the day after Singh said an NDP government would spend $10 billion over the next four years to create 500,000 new child-care spaces in Canada with the goal of offering free services for some parents.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

The NDP leader will be in the city on Friday, making an evening stop at The Study Coffeehouse on Lakehead University campus, according to an event posting on the party's website.

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