ST-SAUVEUR, Que. — Quebec cabinet ministers are speaking out about a deluge of hateful comments posted to the premier’s Facebook page after he published a message in support of the province’s Muslim community.
Premier Francois Legault attended a ceremony Wednesday on the third anniversary of the Quebec City mosque shooting that left six men dead.
Later that evening, a message was posted to Legault’s official Facebook page stating that Quebec is not immune to hatred, but its people stand in solidarity with Muslims in the province.
Since then, the premier’s page has been flooded with hateful comments targeting the community.
Transport Minister Francois Bonnardel, Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon and International Relations Minister Nadine Girault all condemned the comments Friday at their party’s caucus retreat north of Montreal.
Bonnardel says some people in the province need to be better educated.
“There is some pedagogy that needs to be done,” he told reporters in St-Sauveur, Que. “There is a problem with certain people who dare to think that, who dare to write that.”
Fitzgibbon said Quebecers “need to accept diversity.”
Legault sent a written statement to Montreal’s La Presse, saying, “hate and intolerance do not have their place in Quebec.”
In November, Legault cited positive comments on his Facebook page to justify his government’s controversial immigration reforms, but in his statement to La Presse he noted that “the best and the worst of human nature” are on display on social media.
“There is a small minority of people who systematically use social media as a megaphone to propagate their hatred,” he said. “We have to denounce them. They do not represent Quebec.”
The premier’s staff worked to remove the offensive posts, but as of Friday morning new ones were still appearing.
About 300 people, including politicians, survivors and gun control activists, gathered in a Quebec City church Wednesday to remember the victims of the 2017 shooting.
The gunman pleaded guilty to the killings and last year was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for 40 years.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Jan. 31, 2020.
The Canadian Press