MONTREAL – A candidate in a Quebec provincial byelection has triggered controversy with a campaign poster that criticizes Canadian multiculturalism and shows a photo of a woman wearing a niqab.
Alexandre Cormier-Denis is running for the Parti independantiste in the Montreal riding of Gouin.
The poster has the slogan Choose Your Quebec above two photos of the same woman — one in which she is sporting a blue tuque with the Fleur-de-lis and the other in which she is wearing a niqab.
Below the photos it is written Canadian Multiculturalism, No Thanks.
Police withdrew the poster from outside a subway station after they received complaints but it was put back up outside another one because Cormier-Denis is a registered candidate in the May 29 vote.
Cormier-Denis says multiculturalism ghettoizes immigrants in their own communities.
“So while an election should be the time to give voters real choices, it is considered scandalous for a candidate to dare question the multiculturalist order that Ottawa imposes on Quebec,” he wrote on Twitter.
“The journalistic caste seems incapable of imagining it is possible to get out of this multiculturalist model without it being morally reprehensible.
“Yet, by shutting them off in their communities of origin, English-Canadian multiculturalism is actually closer to real racism.”
Haroun Bouazzi, co-president of a Muslim and Arab group that is in favour of secularity, called the poster anti-Muslim and said he believes voters in Gouin will categorically reject Cormier-Denis next Monday.
“But if he gets five per cent it would be enormous, a disaster,” Bouazzi said in an interview. “But we’re urging people in Gouin to show that Quebec isn’t ready to import racist slogans and posters from France.”
Bouazzi called on Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and Premier Philippe Couillard to launch a concerted anti-racist campaign.
The byelection is being held to replace Quebec solidaire’s Francoise David, who quit politics earlier this year. Former student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois is hoping to retain the seat for the left-wing party. His opponents include the Liberals’ Jonathan Marleau and the Green party’s Alex Tyrrell.
The Parti Quebecois is not fielding a candidate.