Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

With lots to lose, Mulcair still slams charter

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SASKATOON -- Tom Mulcair has denounced Quebec's proposed charter of values as completely unacceptable.

The federal NDP leader, who had adopted a cautious, wait-and-see approach to the issue, came down hard moments after the Parti Qu©b©cois government unveiled a discussion paper Tuesday outlining its plans to ban public servants from displaying religious head wear and other symbols.

"For now, suffice it to say that the text confirms our worst fears," he said outside an NDP caucus retreat in Saskatoon.

"We're categorical in rejecting this approach. Human rights don't have a best-before date, they're not temporary and they're not a popularity contest.

"To be told that a woman working in a day-care centre because she's wearing a head scarf will lose her job is to us intolerable in our society."

Mulcair faced some criticism for not immediately coming out against the charter when details first began leaking out weeks ago. He was criticized for pandering to popular sentiment in Quebec, which accounts for 57 of the NDP's 100 MPs, including Mulcair.

But he said Monday the NDP has a "proud history" of standing up for human rights and this will be no different.

"This for us is completely unacceptable and the NDP will be standing up four-square against this project."

Unlike other federalist parties which have only a handful of seats in Quebec, the NDP has much to lose by standing up against the charter, which polls suggest is popular among Quebecers.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 11, 2013 A11

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