Too far? Premier Couillard says political cartoon was in poor taste
Published Monday, March 13, 2017 12:29PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, March 13, 2017 7:12PM EDT
An editorial cartoon in a weekly newspaper has caught the attention of Quebec’s premier – and he's not happy about it.
Published last Wednesday, on International Women's Day, the cartoon showed Premier Philippe Couillard in religious garb stoning Fatima Houda-Pepin, while saying "Happy Birthday Fatima."
It was published in local Longueuil weekly newspaper the Courrier du Sud, and was also posted to the newspaper's website. It has since been pulled offline.
Houda-Pepin is a former Liberal MNA who was pushed out of caucus because of a conflict with the party over its views on secularism.
She was very outspoken, saying that garments like the chador are symbols of oppression and fundamentalism.
Couillard disagreed, and she was given a choice to stick with the party line or leave.
Ever since, Houda-Pepin has been very vocal about criticizing the Liberals and the premier, especially when it comes to issues of religious neutrality.
As for the cartoon, the premier's office contacted the management at the newspaper and it was removed from the website.
Couillard said Monday morning that he didn't ask for it to be removed, only that his team expressed that they felt it was in poor taste because it depicted murder.
A spokesperson for the newspaper said "we reviewed the image, which portrayed a woman being stoned, and deemed it to be offensive and in poor taste. While the newspaper had already been printed and distributed, we made the decision to remove it from the Courrier du Sud's website."
The longtime political artist who drew the cartoon, Jean-Marc Phaneuf, told The Canadian Press he sees nothing controversial about the cartoon and criticized Couillard's involvement in the matter.
Opposition leader Jean-Francois Lisée said the premier was out of line.
"The aggravating factor is that newspapers in the regions of Quebec now are under the threat of a Liberal bill that would strip them from government funding through public notices in the papers, so you can see that of course Transcontinental must be be very, very nervous to have the premier's office on its case," said Lisée.