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Quebec opposition ‘ill at ease’ with right-wing nationalist at immigration hearings

"It's up to the government to explain (how he got on this list)," Parti Québécois MNA Pascal Bérubé says.

A sign in a waiting room says "Le Québec vous accueille"
A legislature committee is examining Quebec's proposed new immigration plan. Photo by John Mahoney /Montreal Gazette

QUEBEC — The possible presence of a militant right-wing nationalist with anti-immigrant views at a committee of the National Assembly Thursday has sparked a malaise among Quebec politicians.

But they have steered the blame back onto the Coalition Avenir Québec government for having allowed it to happen.

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Alexandre Cormier-Denis, who became known in 2016 because of his friendship with right-wing French politician Marine Le Pen (president of the Front National) and who later founded a group called Horizon Québec that promoted her views, appears on the list of witnesses scheduled to appear before the legislature committee examining Quebec’s proposed new immigration plan.

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He is the last person scheduled to appear, at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, the last day of three weeks of hearings.

“We are ill at ease and against the views of this personality,” Québec solidaire MNA Haroun Bouazzi told reporters. “I think this is clear. As for the procedure of the National Assembly, I do not master this. He was not invited as such. And if he has hateful views, it will be up the chairperson of the committee to take action.”

“It’s up to the government to explain (how he got on this list),” added Parti Québécois MNA Pascal Bérubé. “We indicated that if someone was to be cut, there was this person.

“We will have to live with it. There were situations in the past where we were ill at ease, we expressed it and chose to not ask questions (of the witness). But ultimately we are not going to comment on a decision which ultimately belongs to the CAQ.”

“I don’t agree with this guy,” said the Liberal member of the committee, Monsef Derraji. “I in no way share the views of this individual. But we have ourselves a procedure. These are general consultations on immigration. Everyone can send in a brief. We will try to find a solution to this today.

“But who am I to muzzle a group? Do I agree with everyone who appears before a committee? My role is what? Hear from groups. This is where we are at.”

Cormier-Denis is described by Pivot media as a conservative militant indépendantiste and backer of right-wing national movements.

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