'Racist' poster in Gouin draws ire from citizens, Muslim group

Byelection candidate Alexandre Cormier-Denis remains unapologetic in the face of backlash about the controversial sign, posted last Thursday.

Byelection candidate Alexandre Cormier-Denis remains unapologetic in the face of backlash

The poster was put up by Gouin candidate Alexandre Cormier-Denis, a founder of the Horizon Québec Actuel. (Radio-Canada)

A campaign poster put up in the Gouin area by one of the candidates running in the upcoming byelection has drawn criticism and even police action this week.

The sign, originally put up outside Beaubien Metro station, shows two versions of the same woman: one wearing a Quebec-branded hat, and the other in a Muslim niqab with the tagline "Choose Your Quebec."

The poster was taken down by Montreal police as possible hate speech, but because Cormier-Denis is registered with Quebec's director of elections, it went back up. (CBC)
Montreal police took the sign down last Thursday after receiving 911 complaints from residents. Police spokesperson Benoit Boisselle told CBC the hate crimes unit was called in to investigate the sign put up by Gouin candidate Alexandre Cormier-Denis.

But because he's registered with Quebec's director of elections, the sign went back up at Jean Talon metro.

"It's racist," said Montrealer Lorraine Beauchamp. "They chose the Muslim person with the niqab, and I find it's insulting them, and it's not right at all."

Cormier-Denis unapologetic

Cormier-Denis, running with the Parti Indépendantiste, is also the founding President of Horizon Québec Actuel, a group affiliated with France's far-right Front National.

For his part, Cormier-Denis remains unapologetic in the face of backlash, saying he'd been in touch with Montreal police to complain about their interfering with his campaign signs.
Alexandre Cormier-Denis, running with the Parti indépendantiste, is also the founding President of Horizon Québec Actuel. (

"I was assured that this would not happen again, that obviously it was not in the mandate of the police to interfere with the issue of the electoral signs," he said.

In a video posted over the weekend, Cormier-Denis refuted charges of racism.

He claimed that since the woman featured on the sign was the same in both images, it was merely meant to represent two different "models of integration."

Muslim group appeals to voters

A group representing Muslims and Arabic-speaking people in Quebec has come out against the campaign sign and its message.

"He tells us something that we already know, that there are groups that want to organise and represent the extreme right in the society," said Haroun Bouazzi, co-president of the Association of Muslims and Arabs for a Secular Quebec.

"We hope that the people of Gouin will explain that they're not open to these kinds of parties."

Voters in the Montreal riding of Gouin will head to the polls May 29.

With files from Matt D'Amours