Quebec City Party Calls Islam “Cancer”, But Election Agency Says Cannot Intervene
Quebec City’s marginal municipal party platform describes Islam as “cancer,” and the province’s electoral commission says it has no power to do anything about it. topic.
Quebec will hold province-wide municipal elections on November 7 and Elections Quebec confirmed on Monday that it had received a complaint for hate speech regarding the political platform of the Alliance Citoyenne Quebec party.
Agency spokeswoman Julie St-Arnaud, however, said on Monday that the independent office was unable to intervene. There is no law in Quebec that deals with the content of political platforms and the agency does not have the power to ban a party or candidate on charges of hate speech, she said.
“We don’t look at party ideas; we act impartially, ”St-Arnaud said in an interview. “There is nothing in our laws that says if a person makes statements of this nature their candidacy is withdrawn.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 poll. “
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Neither the provincial minister responsible for combating racism nor the minister of municipal affairs responded to requests for comment.
Alongside the policy on drinking water and transport, the political platform of the Alliance Citoyenne Québec qualifies Islam as “a cancer that is slowly developing in Quebec society” and as a religion “contrary to the fundamental values of the Quebec ”.
Party leader Alain Giasson said on Monday that the complaint against his platform is unfounded and that there is no room for a law in Quebec that would censor such comments. His predecessor, Daniel Brisson, obtained 0.61% of the vote 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.
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He said he added a section on Islam to his platform after learning that a major party in the elections was leading 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 the Benabdallah 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 need to create programs to live together,” he added. “Concrete actions that bring people together. Cultural, intellectual, sporting activities, conferences. But it will not happen by itself. I agree that we need to regulate and slow down hate speech, but we need the funds for people to work together and 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.
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