Days after the Trudeau Liberals appointed Amira Elghawaby as Canada’s ‘anti-Islamophobia’ representative, the Quebec government is calling for her to be fired for statements she made in 2019.
The re-surfaced opinion piece co-authored by Elghawaby in 2019 pertains to Quebec’s “secularism” Bill 21 that was passed. The bill limits religious clothing public sector workers can wear – including hijabs and turbans.
Elghawaby, a Muslim woman who wears a hijab, said the bill violated anti-discrimination laws.
“Unfortunately, the majority of Quebecers appear to be swayed not by the rule of law but by anti-Muslim sentiment,” she said at the time. She further suggested Quebecers had “Xenophobic tendencies.”
On Friday, after her 2019 comments went viral, Elghawaby went into damage control mode, saying she doesn’t believe Quebecers are Islamophobic.
But Quebec’s Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault and Minister of the French Language Jean-François Roberge weren’t satisfied with Elghawaby’s clarification.
“All she did was try to justify her abhorrent remarks,” said Roberge.
“That is not acceptable. She must resign and if she does not, the government must remove her immediately.”
Guilbault piled on, saying Quebecers are welcoming and Elghawaby’s comments were “unacceptable.”
Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet also said her comments were “more divisive than anything.”
Quebec’s call for Elghawaby to resign has put pressure on Trudeau, as he’s heavily relied on Quebec votes over his three election wins. However, on Monday, Trudeau said he was satisfied with Elghawaby’s clarifications.
“Obviously she thought carefully over many years about the impacts that various pieces of legislation and various political positions have had on the community, and her job now is to make sure that she helping government and helping everyone move forward,” Trudeau said.
Predictably, New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh suggested the criticism against Elghawaby by Quebecers was racist and sexist because she is a woman of colour.
“I think, for any woman seeing this, they look at this and see this looks really familiar, the piling on of a woman in particular, particularly a racialized woman, I think, is really troubling in general, and in this case, it seems to be problematic,” he said.
Conservative Party of Canada leader Pierre Poilievre, on the other hand, said Trudeau should reverse his appointment of Elghawaby.