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Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante facing online threats for opposing secularism bill

Click to play video: 'Call for calm after Montreal Mayor threatened for opposing secularism bill' Call for calm after Montreal Mayor threatened for opposing secularism bill
WATCH BELOW: Quebec politicians are calling for calm after reports of threats against Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante over her stance on Bill 21 – Apr 18, 2019

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante spoke out Thursday about threats directed against her over her stance on the province’s secularism bill.

Plante told reporters Thursday the online attacks have intensified, and she is taking them seriously.

READ MORE: Group of Montreal suburbs plans to defy CAQ religious symbols bill, but Beaconsfield would obey

“I’m always open for debate, but I will not accept that,” Plante said. “This is not the kind of society we want.

The threats, including some of physical violence, are in messages posted online or sent directly to her social media accounts. “Freedom of speech is important, but we need to realize we’re also talking to human beings,” Plante said.

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A senior aide to the mayor told The Canadian Press that messages deemed to have crossed a line have been flagged and sent to Montreal police.

READ MORE: Quebec government refuses to say what penalties might apply to those who disobey proposed secularism law

Quebec’s Bill 21 would prohibit public servants in positions of authority — including teachers, police officers, Crown prosecutors and prison guards — from wearing religious symbols on the job. A grandfather clause would protect people already hired in those positions.

The debate surrounding the proposed legislation has been divisive since the bill was tabled last month. On Monday, Plante and Lionel Perez, the opposition leader at Montreal city hall, issued a joint motion denouncing Bill 21.

WATCH BELOW: Lionel Perez rejects Quebec’s religious symbols bill

Click to play video: 'Lionel Perez rejects Quebec’s religious symbols bill' Lionel Perez rejects Quebec’s religious symbols bill
Lionel Perez rejects Quebec’s religious symbols bill – Apr 16, 2019

On Wednesday, Toronto city council passed a resolution supporting Montreal and declaring its opposition to any legislation restricting freedom of religion.

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Quebec Premier François Legault called the attacks on Plante unacceptable and urged calmer debate.

Legault also downplayed a recent article in the Chinese daily Global Times, praising the proposed legislation and comparing it to China’s own policy of repression of the Uighurs, a Muslim minority group often sent to re-education camps.

READ MORE: ‘Quebec will always be open’: Immigration minister defends religious symbols bill

The premier said Thursday he couldn’t stop the Chinese daily from applauding his government’s legislation. The April 2 dispatch called the Quebec’s proposed legislation a good way of ensuring separation of church and state.

Legault said neither the Chinese nor Toronto would ultimately have an impact on the debate in Quebec.

“I don’t think so, when you compare what’s happening in large countries like France, Germany, Belgium, they took decisions to forbid some religious signs,” Legault said in Quebec City. “So we’re doing that with the support of the majority of Quebecers, and it’s not up to Ontario people to decide what’s happening in Quebec.”

WATCH BELOW: Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante weighs in on Quebec’s proposed religious symbols ban

Click to play video: 'Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante weighs in on Quebec’s proposed religious symbols ban' Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante weighs in on Quebec’s proposed religious symbols ban
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante weighs in on Quebec’s proposed religious symbols ban – Mar 28, 2019

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