South Shore Muslim community grills federal candidates
Published Friday, October 2, 2015 10:49PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, October 3, 2015 11:43AM EDT
While four federal party leaders debated over the airwaves Friday night, a group of South Shore candidates were to speaking to their local Muslim community.
The Canadian Muslim Forum organized the debate, which took place in the riding of Brossard-St. Lambert, and debate organizers wanted to bring up their concerns over two federal laws.
Bill C-51 was designed to give police forces more power to fight terrorism, while Bill C-24 can revoke the Canadian citizenship from dual citizens found guilty of terrorism.
The community is asking itself a lot of questions about these laws, which debate moderator Samah Jabbari of the Canadian Muslim Forum said were “based on vague and non-solid grounds.”
The three main candidates in the riding were asked to defend their party's position on the laws.
“For Bill C-51 we would repeal it, C-24 the same thing so for us we have to be open but we also have to protect our rights, which is something the Liberals and the Conservatives haven't done,” said NDP incumbent Hoang Mai.
Liberal candidate Alexandra Mendes is hoping to unseat Mai but shares his view on the citizenship law.
“There's a justice system to punish people who fail to keep their obligations to the country, but we don't send them back. A Canadian is a Canadian,” she said.
Her party voted alongside the Conservatives in favour of Bill C-51, but Mendes pointed out the Liberals outlined many amendments they’d make to the bill.
For his part, the Conservative party candidate Qais Hamidi says the Canadian Muslim Forum mischaracterized the two controversial laws, and says they don’t target the Muslim community.
“If you're not a terrorist, you should not be afraid of [them]. The changes we’re bringing [are] to protect Canadians first and this is exactly what this government is committed to do,” he said.
The participants also expressed disbelief over how some political parties have used the issue of the niqab to raise fear among voters.