Premier Francois Legault said Thursday there is no Islamophobia in Quebec, closing the door on the idea of designating a national day to combat the problem.
On Tuesday, the second anniversary of a mosque shooting that killed six Muslim men in Quebec City, his deputy premier Genevieve Guilbault appeared open to the idea of a national day to combat Islamophobia, which had been proposed by Muslim groups.
"Genevieve was careful in saying that we were going to look at that," Legault told reporters at the end of a caucus meeting in Gatineau, Que. "We looked at it, and there won't be any, that's clear."
As for why, he said simply: "Listen, I don't think there is Islamophobia in Quebec." After the news conference a press aide told media the premier meant to say "there is no current of Islamophobia in Quebec."
The topic remains sensitive in Quebec, which continues to grapple with a debate over accommodating minority religions. Legault has promised legislation early in the next legislative session to prohibit public servants in positions of authority — police officers, judges, prosecutors, prison guards and teachers — from wearing religious symbols such as the hijab, turban and kippa.
In Ottawa, the Commons heritage committee recommended last year that Jan. 29 be declared a "national day of remembrance and action on Islamophobia and other forms of religious discrimination." Toronto Mayor John Tory announced this week that the city was proclaiming Jan. 29 a day of remembrance and action on Islamophobia.