TORONTO (JTA) — A leading Canadian Jewish organization rejected the apology of a candidate in Quebec’s provincial election for spreading views seen as anti-Semitic.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, or CIJA, said Saturday’s apology by Louise Mailloux, a Parti Quebecois candidate running in a Montreal electoral district, is “meaningless.”
Mailloux said her past statements that baptism and circumcision amounted to “rape” and that kosher products are a hidden “tax” intended to fund “religious wars” were not intended to offend.
“I never wanted to offend or hurt anyone,” Mailloux said in a statement issued by the Parti Quebecois. “If that has happened, I very sincerely apologize.”
In previous writings, Mailloux, who teaches philosophy at a Montreal college, called kosher certification “robbery,” a “rip-off,” and a hidden “tax” paid “directly…to the synagogue” that boosts the price of all products. She had also called for a ban on kosher and halal food products.
In an interview published March 13, Mailloux said she “absolutely” stood by her views.
“Far from retracting or denying her support for an undeniably anti-Semitic conspiracy theory of the ‘kosher tax,’ Ms. Mailloux is saying she was misunderstood,” CIJA said in a statement.
The group called on the separatist party to “assume its responsibilities and categorically disavow the conspiracy theory promoted by its candidate.”
Informed of her candidate’s comments, Quebec’s premier, Pauline Marois, said she supported Mailloux.
“She supports our secular charter [that would ban religious symbols worn by public employees] sector and I appreciate her support,” Marois said, adding that Mailloux “is an eloquent writer” and “I respect her point of view.”
She said the Parti Quebecois is “not an anti-Semitic party.”
CIJA said Mailloux’s remarks echoed a conspiracy created and spread by the Ku Klux Klan, “and championed by many other racist and Neo-Nazi groups.”