VANCOUVER, Canada (JTA) — A Quebec candidate says she regrets comments she made two years ago calling for an end to circumcision and “Jewish” to be removed from a Montreal hospital.
The comments made by the ruling Parti Quebecois’ Tania Longpre, then a blogger for Journal de Montreal, in a Facebook exchange were made public this week.
Along with calling for an end to circumcision, Longpre said “Jewish” should be removed from name of Jewish General Hospital, a government-funded institution that would be affected by a bill proposed by the party’s leader banning public sector employees from wearing religious attire at work.
Jewish groups and other religious minorities in the province are worried about the proposed change to the Quebec Values Charter that was tabled in parliament Nov. 7 following weeks of debate. The proposal has been criticized for banning public sector workers from wearing kippahs, headscarves or turbans but allowing small Catholic symbols to be worn in the form of jewelry.
Longpre, who is running in a Montreal district, told a Quebec radio station that the comments do not reflect her current views.
“It’s what I thought two years ago but I think we can all evolve,” she said according to the Montreal Gazette. “Yes I regret having written this. I regret having thought this. Do I think this today? No.”
Longpre also wrote that hospital doctors and staff should be prohibited from having Hasidic sidecurls.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs has asked Bernard Drainville, the Parti Quebecois minister for democratic institutions and the man behind the proposed charter, to reprimand Longpre.
Drainville said Longpre’s views are not reflective of the party or government.
“Before being a candidate she was a citizen, an individual who had freedom of speech. Now she’s a PQ candidate and she must endorse, as I think she did, the policies and positions that were taken by the PQ government so far,” Drainville said on Tuesday, according to CTV News.
Longpre’s comments, which were leaked to a Quebec City newspaper, also included disparaging remarks about Parti Quebecois leader and provincial premier Pauline Marois.