The head of a Canadian political party, who is Sikh, was interrupted at a Montreal market on Wednesday by a passerby who told him to take off his turban to “look like a Canadian,” according to video seen on TV.
Jagmeet Singh, the head of the New Democratic Party and a member of the Canadian parliament, is a practicing Sikh who is known for his colorful turbans.
He is the first leader of a Canadian federal political party who is a member of an ethnic minority.
Singh was meeting with voters at a public market when an older man stopped him.
“You know what? You should cut your turban off. You’ll look like a Canadian,” the man told Singh.
“Oh, I think Canadians look like all sorts of people. That’s the beauty of Canada,” the left-leaning politician replied.
“In Rome, you do as the Romans do,” the member of the public told Singh, who was born in Canada.
“Hey, but this is Canada, you can do whatever you like,” Singh insisted.
The interlocutor ended the exchange with, “All right, take care, eh? I hope you win.”
Singh took part in a debate late Wednesday with leaders of Canada’s other political parties – Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Conservative Andrew Scheer and Yves-Francois Blanchet of the Bloc Quebecois – ahead of federal elections later this month.
The politicians were expected to discuss a new Quebec law that bans public officials such as police officers and teachers from wearing religious symbols, including turbans, at work.
The three federal party heads are opposed to the law – which is popular in Quebec, one of the main battlegrounds for the October 21 legislative elections.