NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Sunday that he wanted to “show an openness” to Quebec in response to a question asking why an ad that aired in early September displayed a frame of him without his turban.
The ad, which was voiced completely in French, aimed to gather supporters in the francophone province. The initial frame of Singh was of him with his long hair down and is followed by one of him tying on a turban before jumping into a sparring montage at the gym.
“But more importantly I want to show an openness to Quebec, and I wanted to show folks in case they were worried. It’s just hair underneath there,” Singh initially joked in his response.
“But the openness is that you know for me I want to be an ally for Quebec and that means letting people know where I stand and who I am.”
READ MORE: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh promotes platform in Quebec ahead of federal election call
Singh, who was speaking in Sherbrooke, was at the first of two stops he made Sunday in the midst of the federal election campaign trail.
Singh has long been a vocal critic of Quebec’s secularism law, Bill 21, which successfully banned the wearing of religious symbols on the job for those working in positions of authority — namely police officers, teachers and public servants.
WATCH (Sept. 4, 2019): My presence in Quebec ‘is an act of defiance’ against Quebec Bill 21: Singh
Examples of said religious symbols include hijabs, kippahs, crosses and turbans.
Bill 21, which was spearheaded by Quebec Premier Francois Legault and his Coalition Avenir Quebec party, was passed in June.
“I know what it’s like to be excluded & made to feel like you don’t belong just for being who you are — and it hurts,” wrote Singh in a post to social media in late March.
“What Bill 21 is saying to so many young people is that being yourself should disqualify you from doing a job. It divides & isolates people — and this is wrong.”
READ MORE: New teacher leaves Quebec for British Columbia over Bill 21
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More recently, Singh addressed the bill on the first day of the election campaign, when he described it as “divisive” and “hurtful” and planned to make the NDP presence stronger in the province.
“I think about a lot of the people that I meet in Montreal, a lot of young women that I’ve met who love science and love teaching and want to become a teacher, and now because of this bill (they) can’t,” Singh said in response to a question from Global News. “It saddens me.”
WATCH (Sept. 11, 2019): Singh says he ‘believes’ in protecting Quebec identity
The two visits on Sunday were aimed at reviving the strong support the party once held over the province with the introduction of a new platform, as well as a pledge to find a way for Quebecers to finally sign into the Constitution.
Outlining how important it is to defend ones’ identity, Singh spoke on his desire to defend it specifically in Quebec.
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“I understand how important identity is for Quebec and I want to defend that, I want to fight for that and I want people to know I can be your ally and I will be your ally.”