April 12, 2019 6:27 pm

Montreal mayor continues to call on William Steinberg to apologize

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says she will not encourage disobedience when it comes to Bill 21. This as Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg continues to come under fire for equating Quebec's religious neutrality bill to "ethnic cleansing." Global's Billy Shields reports.

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Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante continued calls for Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg to apologize over his comparisons of Quebec’s Bill 21 to ethnic cleansing.

She said the controversy has shifted the debate away from the bill — which if passed would prohibit civil servants in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols at work.

“It shouldn’t be about him,” she said, stopping short of calling for his resignation. “It should be about the women and the men who are affected directly.”

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READ MORE: Hampstead mayor vows to no longer use ‘ethnic cleansing’ to describe Bill 21

Reached by email, Steinberg wrote Global News to say he had “said enough already” on the issue and declined an interview request. On Wednesday, he told Global News he wouldn’t apologize and that he views himself as being principled rather than stubborn.

Ethnic cleansing as a term stems from the wars in the ex-Yugoslavia after the fall of the Iron Curtain, when sectarian conflicts tore the country apart.

“Militia groups and the army would use violence to get certain ethnic and religious groups off a certain territory,” said Kyle Matthews, who is the executive director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies. The organization hasn’t taken a position on the bill.

The controversy has brought a so-called “media storm” on a town of little more than 7,000 people that doesn’t even contain one business within its borders.

Steinberg has also cancelled a town council meeting slated Monday due to the controversy, and he will not attend a protest this weekend against the bill.

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