In identical French statements sent to parliamentary reporters and Global News on Wednesday, Blanchet’s press secretary said the Bloc leader invites the person who posted the allegations, relating an incident in 1999, to “file a complaint” with the appropriate authorities.
“The leader of the Bloc Québécois always hopes that justice can be served in order to protect the real victims of criminal acts,” Carolane Landry said in French.
“Yves-François Blanchet will continue with his professional activities. No further comments will be made.”
The allegations were posted on Tuesday to Facebook page called “Hyènes en jupons” — or “Hyenas in skirts.” The group describes itself as a feminist collective that aims for change through disruption.
Global News does not know the identity of the accuser and has not yet been able to verify the claims in the post.
In an interview with the Montreal Gazette, the woman said the memory of the alleged assault has haunted her for years. The Gazette did not publish the identity of the woman, who told the newspaper she only recently realized Blanchet is now the leader of the Bloc.
In an email, the “Hyenes en jupons” Facebook page said it doesn’t keep the identities of the people that send them testimonies for security reasons.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh described the allegations as “a troubling story” in statement on Wednesday afternoon, adding he’s “always” believed that “all allegations must be taken seriously.”
“We are currently seeing a wave of denunciations in Quebec that requires a great deal of courage and demonstrates the lack of confidence victims have in our system,” Singh’s statement said.
“It discourages them from making a complaint, so we must listen, first of all, and change the culture of silence concretely and profoundly.”
Asked about the allegations against Blanchet, a spokesperson for Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment.
Liberal cabinet minister and Quebec MP Melanie Joly posted generally about sexual harassment and violence on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon.
“It takes courage to speak out,” Joly, minister of economic development and official languages, wrote.
A spokesperson for Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said his office “won’t be commenting without further information.”
Asked whether Montreal police had received a complaint about the alleged incident, a spokesperson for the local police service said the force doesn’t confirm whether a specific sexual assault complaint has been received or whether they’re investigating a specific incident, for safety and privacy reasons.
A statement in French sent to Global News said the SPVM encourages anyone who is a victim of sexual assault to call 911 or to present at their local police station to file an official complaint.
-With files from Global News’ Mike De Souza