QUEBEC –The Quebec government voted Wednesday to denounce a recent Washington Post opinion piece that claimed the province is more racist than the rest of Canada.
Legislature members voted unanimously to condemn the article, which ran three days after six men were killed at a Quebec City mosque.
The motion, brought forward by the opposition Parti Quebecois, asked the government to “rectify the remarks made against the people of Quebec” and to defend the province’s reputation on the international scene.
It was adopted by a 112-0 margin.
The article, entitled Why Does ‘Progressive’ Quebec Have So Many Massacres?, was written by Vancouver-based political commentator J.J. McCullough and ran Feb. 1.
The author argued that Quebec experiences a disproportionate number of mass shootings due in part to what he called a history of “anti-Semitism, religious bigotry and pro-fascist sentiment.”
In a telephone interview Wednesday, McCullough described the government’s motion as “preposterous and absurd” and said it would only encourage him to keep writing.
“If politicians are engaged in efforts that, to me, certainly seem like intimidation, I think I have a responsibility to resist that,” he said.
McCullough said no Quebec politician contacted him directly after the article’s publication.
International Relations Minister Christine St-Pierre confirmed the government was planning to send the newspaper a formal letter of complaint.
“I don’t even want to respond to what (the author) said because it’s so beneath everything,” she told reporters.
Her spokeswoman, Ann-Clara Vaillancourt, said the letter was still being prepared as of Wednesday afternoon and that it was not clear who would sign it.
Last week, the House of Commons refused to debate a similar Bloc Quebecois motion that denounced the article as hateful.
Over the years, several writers critical of Quebec culture have rankled the political class.
A 2010 article in Maclean’s magazine entitled Quebec: The Most Corrupt Province was followed by a chorus of francophone politicians demanding the publication issue an apology.
The Commons also condemned the article and passed a Bloc Quebecois motion that cited “profound sadness” regarding the “prejudice and the stereotypes employed by Maclean’s magazine to denigrate the Quebec nation.”
In 2006, politicians at the provincial and federal level demanded apologies from Globe and Mail columnist Jan Wong for an article in which she suggested Quebec’s language policies and culture were partly to blame for several mass shootings in the province.
And then there’s Mordecai Richler, whose writings regularly triggered the sensitivity of provincial leaders. Richler’s description of French-English relations in the pages of New Yorker magazine as well as his satirical book, “Oh Canada! Oh Quebec!”, were particularly hated.