The fallout continues for Coalition Avenir Québec MNA Pierre Dufour following comments he made during a city council meeting in Val d’Or last week.
Despite an apology on Facebook, where the MNA for the riding of Abitibi-Est attempted to walk back his comments, calls for his resignation are growing.
On Tuesday, Québec solidaire threw its support behind the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) and also called for Dufour to step down.
“Mr. Dufour did not live up to the standards required of an MNA and therefore can no longer adequately represent the citizens of his riding,” wrote Québec solidaire spokesperson Manon Massé on Twitter.
The comments that landed Dufour in hot water were made when the issue of homelessness was brought up during a city council meeting in Val D’Or, about 530 kilometres northwest of Montreal.
He used profane language to describe how the current administration found itself in a difficult situation it had inherited. He claimed it stemmed in part from allegations in 2015 that officers with the Sûreté du Québecc sexually and physically assaulted Indigenous women in the community.
Dufour then went on to say that a Radio-Canada investigation by flagship program Enquête — which first shed light on the alleged abuse — was “full of lies.”
The bombshell allegations eventually led to an inquiry, known as the Viens Commission, that examined relations between Indigenous communities and the provincial government.
In a blistering report, the commission laid out 142 recommendations for the Quebec government, including that it apologize to First Nation and Inuit People for systemic discrimination.
During the council meeting, Dufour also criticized the conclusions of that public inquiry.
On Tuesday, Dufour again apologized but also defended himself.
“Maybe someone didn’t like what I said. But sometimes I think if we want to have something happen, we have to do something,” he said.
Dufour explained that more than 60 per cent of those experiencing homelessness in Val D’Or are Indigenous, but that his comments had nothing to do with race.
He insisted that what he wants is to find a way to move forward and tackle what he referred to as the “chaos” in Val D’Or. While he didn’t expound on the topic of chaos, Dufour mentioned businesses having to close down, vandalism and delinquency.
“Doesn’t matter the colour, doesn’t matter their race, it doesn’t matter anything,” he said. “I’m always there to help with everything when the people want to have some help.”
Massé, however, didn’t buy into Dufour’s apology.
“Despite his apology, the comments made by Dufour regarding the Viens Commission and Indigenous women are detrimental to reconciliation efforts with the Indigenous Peoples of Quebec,” she wrote.
Quebec Premier François Legault didn’t seem thrilled with his team member’s misstep.
“He said that he was sorry. And I agree that he has to say that he was sorry,” he said.
The opposition, however, continued to pile on the rebukes.
“The comments, coming from an MNA, are shameful,” said Liberal André Morin, the official opposition critic for relations with Frist Nations and the Inuit.
“I think the CAQ should get a grip and stop doing things that make apologies necessary on a weekly or daily basis,” said Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon.
Dufour, however, pointed to millions of dollars in funding the government has provided to Indigenous organizations in Val D’Or in recent years, including $10 million for the expansion of the region’s Native Friendship Centre.
Meanwhile, Quebec’s Indigenous Affairs Minister Ian Lafrenière defended the province’s efforts at reconciliation, stating more than 80 of the Viens Commission’s recommendations are on their way to being enacted.
— with files from Global News’ Dan Spector and Kalina Laframboise