A far-right group that believes radical Islamists are endangering Quebec culture says it has filed a human rights complaint against the city of Rimouski over what it contends is discrimination based on the group's political beliefs.
Sylvain Brouillette, a spokesperson for La Meute — or Wolf Pack — told CBC News that the group wants financial compensation and an apology, after the municipality's last-minute cancellation of the group's reservation at a local community centre earlier this week.
"Whether it's based on political convictions or race, it's no different," said Brouillette.
"It's discrimination, and we think our rights were violated."
Brouillette said La Meute's aims are to promote state neutrality, freedom of speech and democracy.
He said the non-binding motion passed in the House of Commons last March condemning Islamophobia is proof there are radical Islamists at work in Canada.
La Meute has sponsored a series of talks this summer by André Pitre, a self-styled "socio-political commentator" whose themes focus on immigration and freedom of speech.
Pitre's talk in Rimouski was scheduled to take place at the Nazareth Community Centre on Aug. 1.
At the last minute, Mayor Marc Parent stepped in to cancel the group's reservation at the municipally owned centre.
"We're proud and open to immigration and diversity," Parent told CBC's Quebec AM earlier this week, and he said the centre would not be used to disseminate values that were not in line with those of the city
He also said the event posed a security issue.
"Renting a room like this in an event where you actually need physical protection, you can understand that it's a community centre and as far as I'm concerned, the two of them don't match," he said.
The event went ahead anyway — about 20 people showed up at a municipal park in the evening to hear Pitre speak, with members of La Meute providing security.
Parent said since the conference did proceed on municipal property, no rights were violated.
The Laurentians town of Saint-Colomban, just west of Saint-Jérôme, also cancelled a reservation at its local community centre after discovering a link to La Meute.
The town's communications officer, Maxime Dorais, said the event, planned for today, was booked by someone who said they belonged to the Association in Support of Victims of Terrorist Acts — or Le Club AVAT.
Under Quebec's business registry, La Meute and the Le Club AVAT du Québec are both run by Patrick Beaudry, a former soldier who lives in Stoneham-Tewkesbury, north of Quebec City.
Constitutional lawyer Julius Grey said the role of human rights legislation is to "defend the unpopular" — and Brouillette's complaint to Quebec's human rights commission is well-founded.
Rimouski mayor's attempt to ban La Meute event leads to human rights complaint - Montreal - CBC News