'None of your business': Legault calls out 'ridiculous' question on Quebec secularism, language laws during federal debate

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Quebec Premier Francois Legault is calling out organizers of Thursday night’s federal election debate for a question which called the province’s secularism and language laws discriminatory.

“It’s my duty to protect the French language, to defend our values,” said the premier during a Friday afternoon press conference. To say those laws "are discriminatory, or even racist, it's ridiculous."

The question was asked by debate moderator Shachi Kurl.

In a round of opening questions to the party leaders, Kurl asked Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-François Blanchet about controversial legislation barring people from wearing religious symbols in some jobs.

“You deny that Quebec has problems with racism,” she said. “Yet you defend legislation such as bills 96 and 21, which marginalize religious minorities, anglophones, and allophones.”

“For those outside the province, please help them understand why your party also supports these discriminatory laws.”

Blanchet responded, suggesting the question was biased.

“The question seems to imply the answer you want,” he said. “Those laws are not about discrimination. They are about the values of Quebec.”

Bill 21 prohibits public-sector workers who are deemed to be in positions of authority, also including public prosecutors and judges, from wearing symbols such as hijabs, kippas or turbans while at work.

Bill 96 is a proposed update to Quebec’s French Language Charter (Bill 101), which would limit access to English-speaking CEGEPs, extend French-language requirements to businesses with 25 or more employees, and grant more power to the Office québécois de la langue française.

While both have received considerable scrutiny from critics in and outside of Quebec, Legault called the question inappropriate.

“To put it as a fact,” he said, “that a law (Bill 21), approved by the majority of Quebecers is discriminatory … Come on, it's unacceptable.”

“I cannot understand how we can end up with this kind of question.” 

Legault continued, suggesting the questions on Quebec's laws, controversial or not, were out of place in a federal debate.

"Bill 21 doesn't apply in the rest of Canada. So please, please, It's none of your business," he said.  

-- This is a developing story that will be updated 

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