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Canada Bloc Quebecois tells Ottawa to stay out of debate over Quebec secularism bill

Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet speaks during a news conference in Ottawa on Jan. 22, 2019.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

The Bloc Québécois is taking its defence of the provincial government’s secularism bill to English Canada with a billboard along an Ottawa highway.

The message in English reads: “Quebec knows what’s right for Quebec. Thank you.”

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said the move is in anticipation of what he expects will be federal involvement in an eventual challenge of Quebec’s Bill 21.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has spoken out against the bill, which would prohibit public sector workers in positions of authority, including teachers, from wearing religious symbols.

At a press conference in Ottawa this morning, Mr. Blanchet called on Mr. Trudeau to confirm that Ottawa will not spend a cent supporting a court challenge of the law.

He said the debate concerns Quebec only, and Mr. Trudeau should not get involved.

“It’s already a problem for him to come barging in with his highly debatable moral authority,” Mr. Blanchet said. “And if he also took money from Quebec taxpayers against the will of the Quebec national assembly, that would frankly become ridiculous.”

Mr. Blanchet has also written a letter in English to fellow MPs vaunting the merits of Bill 21, which he says will ensure the secularism of the Quebec state.

“Quebeckers want to move forward and complete this project,” the letter says. “Members of Parliament in Ottawa must stay out of their way.”

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