Chomedey MNA Guy Ouellette faced a fiery first day chairing Quebec’s Institutions Committee, Sept. 15.
Institutions, all-party committee that does much of the heavy lifting on legislation, doesn’t usually attract much attention.
Last week was different. Tempers flared during an exchange Islamic activist Adil Charkoui.
Canadian authorities arrested Charkoui after convicted millennium bomber Ahmed Ressam accused the Moroccan-born Montrealer of being an Al Qaeda sleeper agent, and kept him in custody for two years, until he was released on bail in 2005. In 2009, a court overturned his arrest.
He again attracted considerable attention earlier this year, after several of his teenage followers defected to Islamic State in January. During a Feb. 27 news conference, Charkoui told reporters that he had nothing to do with radicalizing the Collège de Maisonneuve students, whom he taught in space that he rented there.
Charkoui appeared before the Institutions Committee to urge Quebec Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée to withdraw Bill 59.
Vallée explained that the proposed law, which would ban certain forms of hate speech, is designed to protect women and members of the lesbian and gay communities against violence.
Montarville MNA Nathalie Roy waded in after Charkoui alleged that the law addressed nonexistent problems and “implicitly targeted an entire community.”
“When at the last minute we catch youths who were about depart to wage jihad in Syria,” thundered Roy in reply. “If those aren’t substantive and proven facts, I wonder what it would take to convince you.”
“When Sharia proponents advocate marital rape in community centres and mosques,” she continued, “those are sufficient threats for us to legislate and that is what we are doing.”
Roy then questioned Charkoui’s claim to speak on behalf of the province’s Muslims.
“You don’t represent the Muslim community in Quebec and you have no credibility so, for me, these exchanges are over,” she concluded.
Ouellette had to intervene several times in during the exchanges, to ask Charkoui to stop using the committee hearing to make speeches and instead to address pertinent questions to the legislators seated around the table.
Fabre MNA Gilles Ouimet had chaired the Institutions Committee until last month, when he resigned from politics. A reliable source indicated that the Liberal government will wait until after voters cast their ballots in the federal election, Oct. 19, to call a byelection in Fabre riding to permit citizens to select a successor.