A man told NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh he should cut his turban off during a campaign stop in Montreal Wednesday.
“You should cut your turban off,” said the man. “You’ll look like a Canadian.”
Singh responded saying, “I think Canadians look like all sorts of people. That’s the beauty of Canada.”
“In Rome, you do as the Romans do,” said the man.
When the man continued, Singh responded, “that’s OK. I don’t agree sir […] this is Canada you can do like, whatever you like.”
Singh was at a federal election campaign stop at a farmers’ market in the Saint-Henri area of Montreal when the incident occurred.
The Sikh NDP leader is the first racialized federal leader in Canadian history.
A thirty-second French-language ad released by the NDP last month showed a shot of the 40-year-old without his turban as he says in a voiceover, “like you, I take pride in my identity.”
Singh is taking part in a French-language debate Wednesday night in Montreal along with Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.
Quebec’s religious symbols legislation is sure to be a point of discussion.
Bill 21, which came into effect in June, prohibits Quebec public servants deemed to be in positions of authority, including teachers, judges and police officers, from wearing religious symbols, such as turbans, kippas and hijabs.
WATCH: Campaign trail incident highlights divisive issue of Quebec’s religious symbols legislation
Singh has called Bill 21 sad and hurtful, and called the legislation a form of “discrimination.”
“I think about what this bill says to a lot of kids out there that are made to feel like they don’t belong because of the way they look,” Singh said during the Maclean’s Citytv debate last month. “I remember when I was made to feel like I couldn’t do things because of the way I looked. This is a law that effectively says that, not just do we discriminate people maybe in society, but now it’s legislated.”
While he has said he would not legally challenge the bill, Singh has been vocal about his support for advocates who are challenging it in court.
“I’m hoping that I can send a message to people in Quebec that you can believe in who you are and you can celebrate your identity and contribute to society,” he said.