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Quebec senator defends membership in anti-immigration Facebook groups

The Gazette logo The Gazette 2017-08-19 Presse Canadienne
0418_na_senators (1): <span style="font-size:13px;">Conservative senator Pierre-Hugue Boisvenu</span> © Sean Kilpatrick Conservative senator Pierre-Hugue Boisvenu

Conservative senator Pierre-Hugue Boisvenu says he will remain a member of two controversial Facebook groups. One of the groups is often visited by members of La Meute while the other is associated with Marine Le Pen’s Alliance of Patriots.

Boisvenu, who is from Quebec, said that he followed the first group, which is associated with La Meute, out of curiosity and to see what people are talking about. As for the group associated with Le Pen, he said that the anti-immigration label shouldn’t be applied to groups that oppose religious accommodation.

Earlier this week, he unsubscribed from the Facebook group for PEGIDA Quebec. PEGIDA is a German acronym for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West. At the time, Boisvenu said he had joined the group “perhaps by accident.”

The senator appears to have actively participated in these Facebook groups. He responded on Tuesday to a member who said that he’d been contacted by the media to clarify the group’s position regarding white supremacism following the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

In his reply, he indicated that he’d also been contacted by the media, said he was the victim of a witch hunt, and expressed fears that “the media and government are working together to silence us.”

The message to which Boisvenu responded was signed “Maikan,” which is the fictitious surname used by the person who has acted as La Meute’s spokesperson in several recent interviews.

Boisvenu said he has”no connection” with the group and maintains that he disagrees completely with its discourse. But the senator also said that he was concerned about Justin Trudeau’s immigration policy.

“We open the doors of Canada without any concern for the safety of the population. I am opposed to this form of immigration where it is said that Canada can welcome everybody, in any way,” he said.

The Canadian Press’s questions asking if the leader of the Official Oposition was comfortable with Boisvenu’s membership in either Facebook group were referred to the office of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Larry Smith.

Smith did not reply by the time this story was published late in the afternoon, August 18.

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