Former Liberal Fatima Houda-Pepin battling for her riding
Depending on who you ask, Fatima Houda-Pepin is the first and only casualty of the Charter of Values.
But you wouldn’t know it while following her on the campaign trail.
Houda-Pepin was kicked out of the Liberal caucus over a difference of opinion over the yet-to-be-passed charter.
First elected in 1994, she announced at the beginning of March that she would be running as an independent in her South Shore riding of La Pinière.
She’s now running for re-election as an independent in the Liberal stronghold.
Houda-Pepin was the only Muslim woman in the legislature before it was dissolved and the election was called.
She wanted a limited ban on religious symbols worn by police officers and judges, an issue the Liberals don’t agree with her on.
“If somebody told you there is no way for you to have another opinion but the one the leader is taking, and this is good for everybody and you have to promote it while you don't feel this is the right thing to do, (what would you do?)" she had said when she split from the party.
"I feel very sorry because I am a Liberal. I am a strong liberal and strong federalist.”
The Liberals replaced her with the ex-head of the federation of medical specialists Gaetan Barrette, who ran in the 2012 election as a member of the Coalition Avenir Quebec.
She has dismissed Barrette as a political opportunist, saying she is the voters’ only choice for a true federalist representative.
For its part, the Parti Quebecois has thrown its support behind Houda-Pepin and isn't running a candidate against her in the riding.
Houda-Pepin says even though Pauline Marois used her to target Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard in Thursday’s debate, she does not feel she’s being used by the PQ to hurt her former party.
“Since we are in an election period, (Marois) is using whatever strategy to combat the other party,” she said.
Houda-Pepin lists the restructuring of the Taschereau Exchange as a project she played a key role in bringing to fruition in her time as an MNA.
She says both the major parties should do a lot more to help women in Quebec oppressed by men because of religion.
“There are women in who are living in these conditions here in Quebec, and nobody cares about them. We are caring about the scarf but we are not caring about women who are living in situations (that are) very, very discriminatory and who are very dominated by men,” she said.
Being kicked out the party meant she lost access to funding doled out to Liberal candidates.
She said recently, donations to her campaign have picked up and she was able to buy 300 posters.
But hers may be an uphill battle – no independent candidate has been elected to the Quebec National Assembly since 1966.
Fatima Houda-Pepin campaigns in her South Shore riding of La Piniere Saturday, March 22, 2014. Houda-Pepin was kicked out of the Liberal caucus in January and is running as an independent.
Independant MLA Fatima Houda-Pepin tables a legislation to modify the government's proposition on the legislation on the Charter of Values Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at the legislature in Quebec City. Houda-Pepin left the Liberal caucus after she disagreed with Leader Philippe Couillard on the charter. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot