Climate, language and apathy: what's on Montrealers' minds after election call?
MONTREAL -- As Montrealers, along with the rest of Canada, learned that they will be heading to the polls again in just over a month, many were left pondering the issues but also one central question: why now?
“It's a weird election because everyone's sort of preoccupied with COVID. No one's thinking of the election,” one Montrealer who was out enjoying the sunny Sunday told CTV News. “Maybe that's why they want to do an election, because no one's thinking about it.”
Despite the sense of apathy, there are large and serious issues that will be debated before the polls close on Sept. 20. Among them is the environment, which McGill Instituty for the Study of Canada Director Daniel Belond declared would be “a theme that would be really central to the campaign.”
As always in Quebec, language and minority rights will also play a role. On Sunday, the Quebec Community Groups Network issued a statement calling on all federal parties and candidates to support English rights in the province.
In particular, QCGN President Marlene Jennings expressed concern about the provincial government's invoking of the notwithstanding clause to enact Bill 96, which bans certain public sector employees from wearing religious symbols.
“We believe it is the Government of Canada’s obligation to support the Constitutional rights of all Canadians,” said Jennings. “We expect the federal government to fulfill its solemn duty to protect and defend our rights.”
Jennings also addressed Bill C-32, a piece of federal legislation that would amend Canada's Official Languages Act.
“The QCGN is concerned that federal parties appear to be abandoning the equality of Canada’s two official languages, in favour of an approach focused solely on the protection and promotion of French,” said Jennings. “Federal elected officials seem to have forgotten that the protection of English and French minorities is a supporting wall of Confederation. We are disturbed by proposed measures that would likely disadvantage English-speaking Quebec when it comes to federal support for Official Language Minority Communities.”
The federal campaign could steal some thunder from the municipal one that is already underway. Montrealers will vote in that election on Nov. 7.
“It's two campaigns at the same time,” acknowledged incumbent Mayor Valerie Plante. “But our campaign is already moving. We're ready and it's going to be exciting.”