Montreal

Anjou councillor booted from party following headscarf comments

Lynne Shand's expulsion comes day after city council speaker files formal complaint about 'xenophobic remarks'

Posted: March 27, 2019
Last Updated: March 27, 2019

Anjou borough councillor Lynne Shand posted comments to her personal Facebook page about having been treated by an ophthalmologist wearing a headscarf. (CBC)

Anjou borough Coun. Lynne Shand has been expelled from her municipal party following her derisive remarks about being treated by a doctor who wears a headscarf.

Luis Miranda, the borough mayor, said the decision was made by his party, Équipe Anjou, on Wednesday morning. Shand will sit as an independent.

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"We reached the conclusion that she could no longer sit as a member of the party," Miranda said.

Miranda had originally resisted taking action over the controversy. On Sunday, he said voters will decide in the next election if they want her to stay in her role. Shand was elected in 2017 by a margin of 400 votes.

"She has a right to have her own opinions or whatever, but as an elected official I think she should have some kind of moderation on what she's saying and what she's doing," Miranda said at the time.

Shand has been embroiled in controversy since complaining on social media on the weekend about being treated by a doctor wearing a hijab.

"Yesterday I had an emergency ophthalmology exam, and who was the ophthalmologist? A woman in a veil... Grrrrrr…," Shand wrote on Facebook.

"If it hadn't been an emergency I would have refused to be treated by her. I'm angry because it's really the Islamification of our country."

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Shand issued a statement Monday apologizing to anyone who may have been offended by her earlier comments.

Formal complaint filed

On Tuesday, the speaker of Montreal city council, Cathy Wong, filed a formal complaint with the Quebec Municipal Commission, a provincial body that oversees municipalities, over what she called Shand's "xenophobic remarks."

On her Facebook page, Wong wrote that she was taking action "as city council speaker and a city councillor, but first and foremost as a citizen of Montreal, because her remarks are inexcusable."

Montreal city council speaker Cathy Wong said Lynne Shand's comments cast doubt on the equality of services she offers to her constituents. (CBC)

Wong observed that 10 per cent of Anjou's population is Muslim.

She said Shand's social media post was "all the more shocking since it was published 10 days after the terrorist attack in Christchurch and a month after Montreal's City Hall marked the tragic attack on a mosque in Quebec City."

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Wong's statement referred to the code of ethics for Montreal city councillors, which declares that citizens must be treated with respect and without discrimination. 

She said Shand's comments cast doubt on the equality of services she offers to her constituents.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante has also asked the city's ethics commissioner to look into the matter.

With files from Radio-Canada's Benoît Chapdelaine