Trudeau Says He Will Facilitate Meeting Between Anti-Islamophobia Rep and Blanchet

By Peter Wilson
Peter Wilson
Peter Wilson
Peter Wilson is a reporter based in Ontario, Canada.
January 30, 2023Updated: January 30, 2023

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will facilitate a meeting between the federal government’s recently appointed representative to combat Islamophobia and Bloc Québécois Party Leader Yves-François Blanchet, who previously called for the meeting.

Blanchet said during question period in the House of Commons on Jan. 30 that Amira Elghawaby, whom Ottawa appointed on Jan. 26, has made comments in the past that some find “very insulting towards Quebec.”

“Obviously, [Trudeau] looked into everything she’d said in the past … but he went ahead and appointed her,” Blanchet said.

“I’d like to ask the prime minister, does he actually think that that appointment is going to be inclusive and bridge-building rather than divisive?”

Blanchet was referring to a 2019 opinion article co-written by Elghawaby that linked “anti-Muslim sentiment” to Quebec’s Bill 21, which bans certain government employees from wearing religious symbols at work.

Elghawaby addressed her past comments on Twitter last week, saying she doesn’t believe Quebecers are Islamophobic and that her opinion article was about a poll indicating that a large majority of Quebecers who supported Bill 21 held negative views of Islam.

Epoch Times Photo
Amira Elghawaby (R) speaks on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Feb. 8, 2017. (The Canadian Press/ Justin Tang)

Blanchet said that instead of “condemning” Elghawaby for her past remarks, he “demanded a meeting with her.”

“Can the Prime Minister tell us whether he hopes that that meeting will take place? Will he facilitate that?” asked Blanchet.

Trudeau confirmed that he would.

“With all my heart, that meeting will take place,” the prime minister replied in French. “I think it’ll be a great conversation.”

Trudeau added that it will give Elghawaby a chance to “explain the extent to which Islamophobia and systemic racism are a reality for people all across this country” and also how legislation can inadvertently be “injurious or hurtful.”

Blanchet’s request to meet with Elghawaby comes shortly after Quebec Secularism Minister Jean-François Roberge called on the federal government to fire her over the 2019 opinion article.

Federal Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre also said recently that Elghawaby has previously made “anti-Quebec, anti-Jewish, and anti-police remarks,” adding that her appointment will cause division in Canada.

The Canadian Press and Marnie Cathcart contributed to this report.