Premier Pauline Marois was unwilling this afternoon to provide additional context on accusations that her candidate in the Gouin riding spread "conspiracy theories" about circumcision, offending Quebec Jews and Muslims.
Over the weekend, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (Federation CJA) vice-president Luciano Del Negro released a statement calling on Marois to "assume her responsibility and categorically disavow...the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory peddled by her candidate," Louise Mailloux.
Marois was asked by CJAD 800 if it "bothers you that large portions of the Jewish and Muslim communities are not going to vote PQ because of her comments." Mailloux had written that circumcision is akin to "rape" and funds from the sale of kosher and halal meat went to fund religious fighters.
"She apologized," Marois said, "and I accept that. You know the Parti Québécois. We have a great respect of all the citizens, even if they are Jewish, if they are Muslim, and we will continue in this perspective."
Pressed again to speak directly to Quebec Jews and Muslims who may feel hurt by the comments, Marois remained evasive:
"I have a very good relationship with this community. We have meetings each year and we will continue to have these meetings to discuss the realities of these communities."
Asked by The Gazette whether or not she was aware of Mailloux's comments before accepting her candidacy, again, Marois refused to answer the question:
"I think it's important to accept when people say 'I apologize and I will not do the same thing in the future.' It seems, for me, normal to accept this, so I accept (Mailloux's apology)...She said she would respect our program, and our program is very clear on respect for citizens."
Listen to CJAD 800's Dan Delmar and The Gazette's Christopher Curtis question Marois on the controversy, while her press attache tries to cut the exchange short: