The debate of identity exacerbates the fear of the Other, said Couillard

News 25 January, 2018
  • Photo archive Annie T. Roussel
    On January 29, 2017, a gunman had burst into the mosque in Quebec, causing six deaths and five wounded.

    Patrick Bellerose

    Wednesday, 24 January 2018 21:32

    Wednesday, 24 January 2018 21:35

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    SHANGHAI | the rise of The extreme right in Quebec can be explained in particular by the debate of identity which is shaking the society of quebec for the past ten years, ” says Philippe Couillard in an interview on the first anniversary of the attack against the mosque of Quebec.

    On January 29, 2017, a gunman had burst into the mosque in Quebec, causing six deaths and five wounded. Since then, groups such as The Pack marched openly in the streets of the National Capital and the hate crimes reported by police services are increased in both Québec city and Montréal.

    If the phenomenon is “not unique to Quebec”, of factors explain why the rest of Canada is not shaken by the events of the extreme right, says the prime minister travelling to China for an economic mission.

    “I think it was, for us, feeling a little exacerbated – and it is always an important debate, and passionate – on the question of identity. All these issues have a lower level of intensity, I would say, in Quebec, which is perhaps the most high”, considers Philippe Couillard.


    “But Quebec is not a society that is more racist or more exclusive than others, he says. We face the same challenges that all companies have to manage diversity. […] Unfortunately, this is the result of the large polarization that we see in our societies : economic polarization, with inequalities ; the polarization geographically, between the urban regions and other regions ; and the polarization identity where everyone takes refuge in his corner and is afraid of the other.”

    Despite this, Philippe Couillard emphasizes the “manifestation very fast and spontaneous solidarity of Quebecers” to the muslim community immediately after the attacks. “When people tell me that Quebec is not a society that is open and tolerant, I am reminded of the thousands of people in the street who came to appear a few days later their solidarity”, he recalls.

    Terrorism and hate crime

    While Philippe Couillard called the attack a terrorist act the same evening of the event, this charge was not taken against the alleged murderer.

    The prime minister says that it is necessary to make a distinction between the definitions of “purely legal, and semantics”. “It is not, according to the criminal Code, the definition of a terrorist act, but an act intended to strike particularly as a single community involves an element of terrorist”, he insists.