Elections Quebec 2022 | Liberal candidate backs down after evoking ‘slow genocide’


A Liberal candidate in the riding of Îles-de-la-Madeleine had to retract on Thursday after referring to a « slow genocide » of the English-speaking community and the risk of « civil war » in a comment on the CAQ reform of the Charter of the French language.

Gil Thériault, who is seeking the vote for the first time in the archipelago, corrected the situation the day after the debate of the candidates for the next election during which he made these remarks. « The image used [mercredi] was too strong. But on the ground, when I speak with the English-speaking community, I am told that they feel excluded by François Legault, whereas they contributed to building the Quebec of today, « he said in a written declaration sent to the To have to.

Mr. Thériault was approached on Thursday following his response the day before to a question on the local impact of the Act respecting the official and common language of Quebec, French (PL 96), adopted in May, originally of this reform of the provisions protecting the French language.

The candidate noted that Anglophones in the archipelago were concerned about access to services in their language and francization requirements in the workplace. “I have spoken extensively with my English-speaking friends about this issue. I cannot describe to you the fear that these people had when they saw “Law 96” appear. For them, it is the equivalent of a slow genocide of the English-speaking community of the Magdalen Islands,” he said in a recording obtained by The duty.

“It would be civil war”

Mr. Thériault deplored the impact of the new rules now requiring francization of businesses with 25 or more employees.

This requirement is unacceptable, according to the Liberal candidate, who used a hypothetical comparison to illustrate his point. “Turn that backwards two minutes, [disons] that the Magdalen Islands were annexed to Prince Edward Island and that, on September 30, it is said that it will take place in English in all companies with more than 25 employees in the Islands, » he said. he said during the debate. “It would be civil war. »

Mr. Thériault asserted that the new rule requiring public services to communicate exclusively in French with immigrants six months after their arrival makes “no good sense” for English-speaking businesses in the Magdalen Islands, all the more so in a context of labor shortage. « They obviously want people who speak English: it’s an English-speaking community, » he said.

According to the Liberal candidate, who is director of the Association des chasseurs de phoques intra-Québec, the English spoken by the leader caquiste François Legault demonstrates that it is unrealistic to demand mastery of French so quickly. “Mr. Legault is 65 years old and he does not speak English yet. I don’t know how he thinks people are going to learn in six months a language that is complex,” he said, referring to French.

The Liberals voted against Bill 96 last May.

A campaign of fear, denounces the CAQ

Wednesday evening, the CAQ candidate Jonathan Lapierre had immediately warned his liberal opponent against excessive language. “I think scare campaigns should be avoided,” he said. This is precisely one of the problems with “Law 96”: using words like war and genocide, I think is not appropriate. »

Thursday, Mr. Thériault repeated that Anglophones in the Magdalen Islands fear that PL 96 will contribute to the decline of their community. « People are worried about the future and that of their children, » he said. “Mr. Legault continues to want to reign by divisiveness, while the PLQ wants to build a Quebec where all Quebecers have a say in the future of our nation. »

The riding has been represented for four years by PQ member Joël Arsenault, who is seeking re-election this year. She was represented by liberal Germain Chevarie from 2014 to 2018.

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