Saguenay prayer critics accused of extremism
Mayor recites prayer in defiance of tribunal ruling
Opponents of the Saguenay mayor's crusade to protect public prayer are demanding to know who created a mysterious document alleging they have extremist ties.
The 17-page document was distributed to journalists at a meeting of Saguenay city council on Monday evening where Mayor Jean Tremblay defied a decision by Quebec's Human Rights Tribunal by opening the meeting with a prayer.
The document contains photos, biographies and links to websites.
It alleges that some of the biggest critics of the mayor have connections to anarchist, extremist and communist groups.
Eric Dubois, who is an organizer with the group Citizens for Democracy, is mentioned in the document.
He is among the critics who posted a video on YouTube last week which said the mayor doesn't speak for them.
Dubois said it is a mystery who created the document, however he said he has his suspicions.
"You can't talk in public against the administration because it will come (back) against you," said Dubois.
Tremblay said neither he nor any other city official created the document.
"I have seen the document. I don't know where it came from," said Tremblay.
Donations to prayer legal fund grow
The controversy began when a citizen complained about the crucifix and sacred heart statue hanging in council chambers, and about prayers recited before the meetings.
That led the province's human rights tribunal to order a stop to the practice. The city of Saguenay has said it will appeal.
Tremblay has raised $150,000 in donations from across Canada for his legal battle.
On Monday, he began the meeting with prayer.
"In the name of the father, the son and the Holy Spirit," said Tremblay, as citizens in the overflowing council chambers booed with disapproval.
"A little respect please," Tremblay interjected before continuing the prayer.
Mayor vows to continue
Tremblay told CBC on Tuesday that he will not stop reciting the prayer before council meetings anytime soon.
"I will continue until I am stopped by the law," said Tremblay.
He said he intends to fight the case as far as the Supreme Court of Canada if necessary, which could take years.
Tremblay insists the prayer reflects Quebec's cultural heritage and must be protected.
"We think that we will win at the end," said Tremblay. "We will continue all this time to pray."