OTTAWA—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walked a cautious line Wednesday between calming tensions in Quebec and backing his point-person on Islamophobia, as Amira Elghawaby supplied a direct apology for her stance on the province’s controversial secularism regulation.

“Quebecers should not racists. Quebecers are among the many people who find themselves the strongest defenders of particular person rights and freedoms, together with a number of different Canadians,” Trudeau informed reporters.

“What we want is a dialog about the truth that all of us agree that rights and freedoms should be protected, and the way in a pluralistic society, a spot of variety and power, we’re in a position to not simply coexist, however perceive one another, respect one another’s priorities and needs and construct a greater future.”

The prime minister then mentioned the particular person to get that job accomplished is Elghawaby, whom Trudeau final week appointed as Canada’s first particular consultant on combating Islamophobia.

However previous feedback made by Elghawaby have prompted a dizzying wave of criticism from Quebec — and members of the federal authorities — as a result of human rights advocate’s blunt view of a provincial regulation that bans individuals who ship public companies from sporting spiritual symbols, together with hijabs.

In a 2019 column within the Ottawa Citizen, Elghawaby and co-writer Bernie Farber, the previous CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress and present chair of the Canadian Anti-Hate Community, wrote of the not too long ago handed regulation that “the vast majority of Quebecers seem like swayed not by the rule of regulation, however by anti-Muslim sentiment.”

The pair attributed that perception to a 2019 ballot carried out by Léger Advertising, which discovered that of these in Quebec who had unfavorable emotions about Islam, 88 per cent supported a ban on public faculty lecturers donning spiritual symbols. The regulation made headlines in 2021 after Quebec schoolteacher Fatemeh Anvari was faraway from her classroom for sporting a hijab, prompting Trudeau and different Liberals on the time to publicly denounce the laws.

Quebec officers have demanded Elghawaby apologize and step down from her submit for what they are saying is her suggestion that almost all of Quebec holds discriminatory views.

Elghawaby issued that apology Wednesday, simply earlier than a gathering with Bloc Québécois Chief Yves-François Blanchet.

“I wish to say that I’m extraordinarily sorry for the best way that my phrases have carried, how I’ve damage the individuals of Quebec, and that is what I’m going to precise to Mr. Blanchet,” Elghawaby mentioned.

“I perceive that the phrases and the best way that I mentioned them have damage the individuals of Quebec. I’ve been listening very rigorously. I’ve heard you and I do know what you’re feeling and I’m sorry,” Elghawaby mentioned. “That is what it’s all about. That is dialogue.”

Elghawaby added that as a part of Canada’s Muslim inhabitants, “we all know what it’s wish to be stereotyped.”

“We all know what it’s like for individuals to have biases,” she mentioned.

Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller, who represents a Quebec using, informed reporters that Elghawaby should be given “an opportunity.”

“What began with a degree of concern about some unlucky statements is beginning to seem like a pile on, and we’re very conscious of the place that’s coming from. So I feel now we have to watch out as a nation as individuals instrumentalize concern of the opposite, significantly those that haven’t been represented within the public area, like Muslims,” mentioned Miller, who refused to elaborate on the place such sentiment was originating.

Blanchet, who has known as Elghawaby’s remarks “very insulting,” mentioned within the Home of Commons Monday that he needed to fulfill with the previous journalist, who beforehand wrote columns for the Star. In response, Trudeau mentioned he would “actually facilitate” a gathering and mentioned Elghawaby can be “delighted” to participate.

A federal supply who spoke to the Star on the situation they not be named mentioned Elghawaby had not been consulted earlier than these feedback had been made, however mentioned she was not “directed” to take part.

The supply mentioned that regardless of the unbiased nature of Elghawaby’s position, it was nonetheless “applicable for her to be participating with opposition leaders” as a result of her job is partly to advise authorities ministers.

However the supply additionally confirmed that Elghawaby is just not as a consequence of formally begin within the place till Feb. 20, which means that her mandate to interact with officers has not but begun. That additionally means she presently doesn’t have her personal workers, neither is she being paid to participate in such conferences.

She is about to fulfill with Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez on Thursday. The minister has mentioned he was “deeply damage” by Elghawaby’s feedback.

Raisa Patel is an Ottawa-based reporter overlaying federal politics for the Star. Observe her on Twitter: @R_SPatel


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