Give Tom Mulcair credit. He stuck to his guns last night on the question of niqabs. A native son, he is well aware of the xenophobic streak that runs through Quebec society -- and which is occasionally fanned by people like Maurice Duplessis, Lucien Bouchard, Gilles Duceppe and Stephen Harper.
Mr. Harper -- in all his hypocritical arrogance -- presents himself as a liberator of women. Justin Trudeau, however, pointed out that there are "more men in your caucus who oppose abortion than there are women in Quebec who wear the niqab." He then asked Harper if he favoured abortion for women. Harper, of course, refused to answer the question.
Michael Den Tandt writes:
Given an opportunity to hedge or fudge, Tom Mulcair stuck grimly to his defence of a woman’s right to wear the Islamic veil or niqab during a Canadian citizenship ceremony — though this stance appears to have cost him his lead in the polls and may in the end deny him victory on Oct. 19.
“A prime minister has an obligation to protect all citizens, including minorities,” he told Stephen Harper during a prolonged four-way exchange about the niqab at the French-language debate. “What you are doing is unworthy of a prime minister.”
Unworthy of a prime minister and completely lacking in courage. Mulcair's stand will not help him in Quebec. Harper has touched an ugly nerve -- not just in Quebec, but in the rest of the country.
But, then, he's the Ugly Canadian.