The Current

To what extent did a far-right group meddle in Quebec cemetery referendum?

Jonathan Montpetit identifies links with far-right group La Meute and the "No" side of Saint-Apollinaire's rejected Muslim cemetery proposal.
Mourners pray at a funeral service for three of the six victims of January's Quebec City mosque shooting. The tragedy revealed Muslims in the provincial capital had no designated nearby cemetery to bury their dead. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

*Audio coming soon

On July 16, a proposal to create a Muslim cemetery in Quebec community of Saint-Apollinaire was vetoed in a local referendum.

The project was spearheaded by the same mosque that was the site of a shooting rampage that left six dead in January, 2017.

The mayors of St-Apollinaire and Quebec City have both expressed their disappointment in the results, and Premier Philippe Couillard says the province will act to ensure Muslims do get their own burial grounds.

But opponents of the project campaigned against it door-to-door, saying they preferred only secular, non-denominational cemeteries.

With a close vote, and a significant percentage having not cast their ballot, some are attributing the result to an indifference towards the burial rights of Muslims, or even a kind of  "casual racism." 

Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume has warned far-right group La Meute to stop interfering. (Radio-Canada)

But Jonathan Montpetit, a senior writer with CBC Montreal, identifies links with the Quebec far-right group La Meute and the "No" side of Saint-Apollinaire's cemetery referendum.

"'They are trying to organize as much as possible to prevent Islamism from taking further root in society," says Montpetit of the group's motives. 

Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume spoke out against La Meute on Tuesday.

"We won't accept anything on their part ... that could resemble a provocation to violence." 

Jonathan Montpetit explains the backstory, and how it may be a harbinger of things to come, on The Current.

This segment was produced by The Current's Karen Marley, Donya Ziaee and Kristin Nelson.