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Election agency says powerless after Quebec municipal party calls Islam “cancer”

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QUEBEC – Quebec City’s marginal municipal party platform describes Islam as ‘cancer’, and province’s electoral commission says it has no power to do anything on this subject. Quebec will hold municipal elections at the provincial level on November 7.

QUEBEC – Quebec City’s marginal municipal party platform describes Islam as ‘cancer’, and province’s electoral commission says it has no power to do anything on this subject.

Quebec will hold province-wide municipal elections on November 7. Elections Quebec, the agency that oversees campaigns across the province, said Monday that there was no Quebec law that addresses the content of political platforms. The office does not have the power to ban a party or candidate for alleged hate speech, spokeswoman Julie St-Arnaud said in an interview.

“We do not look at the ideas of the parties, we act impartially,” said St-Arnaud. “There is nothing in our laws that says if a person makes statements of this nature their candidacy is withdrawn. It is up to the voters to make their choices at the time of the ballot.”

Along with the policy on drinking water and transport, the political platform of the Alliance Citoyenne de Québec qualifies Islam as a “slowly developing cancer in Quebec society” and as a religion “contrary to the fundamental values ​​of Quebec. Quebec ”.

Party leader Alain Giasson said on Monday that there was no room for a law in Quebec that would censor such comments. His predecessor, Daniel Brisson, obtained 0.61% of the vote for mayor in the 2018 municipal elections in Quebec.

“It’s a legitimate debate but unfortunately people are afraid to talk about it,” Giasson said of Islam.

Benoit Charette, the Quebec minister responsible for the fight against racism, said Tuesday through a spokesperson: “We cannot tolerate this kind of speech, especially when it comes from a political party.

Andrée Laforest, Minister of Municipal Affairs of Quebec, said through a spokesperson that comments on Islam in Giasson’s platform “have no place in our society”.

Giasson said he added a section on Islam to his platform after learning that a major party in the election led Boufeldja Benabdallah, co-founder of the city’s Islamic cultural center, as city councilor . Benabdallah is part of Marie-Josée Savard’s team, who is leading the race and has described outgoing mayor Régis Labeaume as his mentor.

Benabdallah is an important figure in the Muslim community of Quebec, where four years have passed since an armed man stormed his mosque on January 29, 2017, killing six men and seriously injuring 19 people.

In an interview on Monday, Benabdallah said Giasson should remove the offensive section of the platform and apologize. But, he said, he didn’t intend to put too much effort into making that happen.

“They insulted me and my religion,” he said. “I asked them to apologize and remove the section but if they don’t want to, that’s how far I’ll go.”

“We must create programs to live together,” he added. “Concrete actions that will bring people together. Cultural, intellectual, sporting activities, conferences. But it will not happen by itself. listen to each other. It cannot be just laws, we need concrete action.

Lara Emond, spokeswoman for Savard’s party, said on Monday that people accusing Benabdallah of imposing his religion shows that there is still work to be done to make the provincial capital more inclusive.

“Mr. Boufeldja Benabdallah does not intend to turn his back on his religion, but he will not impose his point of view either,” Emond said in a statement.

– By Virginie Ann in Montreal.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 5, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version indicated that Elections Quebec had confirmed having received a complaint against the party’s platform.


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