The McGill Daily - - International Stories -

The New Demo­cratic Party of Canada (NDP) is hold­ing its lead­er­ship elec­tions be­tween Oc­to­ber 1-15, 2017. The party is se­lect­ing a leader to re­place Tom Mul­cair, and chal­lenge Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau of the Lib­eral Party and An­drew Scheer of the Con­ser­va­tive Party. Over the sum­mer, the race has nar­rowed down to four can­di­dates: Niki Ash­ton, Mem­ber of Provin­cial Par­lia­ment (MPP) for Churchill, Man­i­toba; Char­lie Angus, MPP for Tim­mins, On­tario; Guy Caron, MPP for Ri­mouski- Neigette-Témis­couata-les Basques, Que­bec; and Jag­meet Singh, MPP for Bra­malea- Gore-mal­ton, On­tario.

The race has largely fo­cused on how to win back the sup­port that was won in the 2011 fed­eral elec-- tion, and sub­se­quently lost to the Lib­er­als in 2015. A huge por­tion of that loss was suf­fered in Que­bec, where Tom Mul­cair’s op­po­si­tion to Lib­eral Bill 62 was per­ceived neg­a­tively. Bill 62 is a bill put for­ward by the Provin­cial Lib­er­als of Que­bec to ban the wear­ing of face cov­er­ings by gov­ern­men­tal em­ploy­ees in the province. The bill has been widely de­scribed as Is­lam­o­pho­bic, as it would tar­get Mus­lim women who wear the burqa or the niqab.

As the race moves into Que­bec the only Que­be­cois can­di­date, Caron, has an­nounced his sup­port of the bill. Ash­ton ini­tially sug­gested that she too sup­ports it, later tem­per­ing her state­ment af­ter re­ceiv­ing sub­stan­tial crit­i­cism from her base. Angus, mean­while, has stated that the mat­ter must go to the courts, and that the gov­ern­ment can­not in­fringe upon re­li­gious free­doms. Singh, who is Sikh and wears a tur­ban, has not yet com­mented on the is­sue.

Polls in Que­bec show a mas­sive loss of in­ter­est in the NDP, with 68 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion de­scrib­ing them­selves as “not in­ter­ested” in a poll con­ducted by Léger. How­ever, de­bates over re­li­gious free­doms are of­ten ex­plo­sive in Que­bec, and the can­di­date who im­presses the most in the province could gen­er­ate con­sid­er­able sup­port for the party na­tion­ally.

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