Quebec won't comply with formal notice demanding reinstatement of anti-abortion event
Quebec International Relations and Francophonie Minister Martine Biron tables a document, before question period, Thursday, April 6, 2023 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
The Legault government will not comply with the formal notice issued by Harvest Ministries International, which is demanding that its contract with the Quebec City Convention Centre be reinstated.
The 'Rallye Feu, Foi et Liberté' event, which was due to be held from June 23 to July 2, was cancelled last Friday by Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx.
She claimed that the event was anti-abortion.
The minister suggested that events that go against the government's values and the "fundamental principles" of the state could not be held in convention centres under government control.
Infuriated, Harvest Ministries International served formal notice to the Quebec government and the convention centre, giving them until noon on Thursday to reinstate its contract, failing which it will take legal action.
On Thursday morning, Proulx refused to comment on the case, arguing that it was being "litigated."
Her colleague, the Minister responsible for the Status of Women, Martine Biron, said that the government was maintaining its decision to ban the event.
"We've been clear. I don't think we're waffling on this issue, we've made our decision, and we're going to stick to it", she said.
PQ AND QS BACK DOWN, PLQ STANDS FIRM
Last Friday, all the parties in the national assembly applauded the Legault government's decision to ban Harvest Ministries International from the Convention Centre.
But the leader of the Parti Québécois (PQ) is now calling for Quebecers to take a step back and question the government's power to determine "arbitrarily" who can gather and express themselves.
"This debate is being transferred to the courts, which run the risk of doing the job that should have been done by the government, namely establishing the criteria for government intervention," said Paul St-Pierre Plamondon.
On Thursday, Quebec Solidaire (QS) parliamentary leader Alexandre Leduc admitted that the parties had perhaps reacted too quickly.
In the last few days, "we asked ourselves a few questions," he admitted.
"There have to be guidelines, and we have to determine them together, in a transparent way, with experts, ethicists and philosophers," he said.
Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) interim leader Marc Tanguay continued to reiterate his support for the government.
At a press briefing, he said that Proulx had made the right decision in driving an anti-abortion group, which describes abortions as "murders," out of the Quebec City Convention Centre.
According to Tanguay, the Legault government took an "exceptional measure."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on June 8, 2023.