Stephanie Marin (The Montreal Gazette):
The head of France’s right-wing Front national party says Canada is on the wrong path with its immigration policy.
Marine Le Pen says the federal Liberal’s decisions on immigration, particularly its welcoming of Syrian refugees, are “erroneous.”
She made the comments on Sunday during a news conference in Quebec City.
Le Pen says Canada’s political leaders have shown little regard for the consequences of their decisions.
She says the consequences could include accelerating the demands of religious minorities, such as providing space for prayer or the establishment of religious courts.
Le Pen suggested the result could be increased tensions.
“A multicultural society is a society in conflict,” said the French politician, who is spending the next few days in Quebec.
Her trip will include a visit to a Bombardier plant as part of an economic mission of the European Parliament. Part of the trip is also personal in nature.
A handful of protesters showed up outside at the Quebec City hotel ahead of Le Pen’s news conference. They unfurled banners denouncing her party and shouted insults, including the claim she is responsible for the rise of racism in France.
Her party has been described by its critics as xenophobic because of its strong stance against mass immigration to France.
Le Pen responded to the protesters by calling them kids who should go to bed.
The group left after one of their members was struck by Le Pen’s bodyguard.
When questioned about Quebec’s independence movement, Le Pen said she was a member of a party that defends sovereignty, and compared France’s battle with the European Union to that of Quebec with Ottawa.
Later, in an interview, she said if her party were to take power in France, it would recognize Quebec as a state on the international scene.
Le Pen said her news conference was held to mark International Francophonie Day.
No major federal or provincial party contacted by The Canadian Press said it has plans to talk or meet with Le Pen during her visit, although Parti Québécois Leader Pierre Karl Péladeau had to take to social media on Saturday following reports that a group of people who described themselves as youth members of his party had met with Le Pen.
Péladeau wrote on his official Facebook page that he was “shocked” to learn of the meeting and said the individuals who participated were not representing his party.
“On behalf of the Parti Québécois, I want to formally disassociate our party and these instances of activities and meetings, at personal initiative, with this party whose history, doctrines, and proposals are at odds with the values of the Parti Québécois,” he wrote.