The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) slammed political leaders in the Canadian province of Quebec on Tuesday for not condemning Louise Mailloux, a candidate for Quebec's National Assembly, over her anti-Semitic comments.
Mailloux recently gave lip service to the classic anti-Semitic trope of a "kosher tax," a conspiracy theory alleging that money collected to certify that food meets the standards of Jewish law goes to "Zionist causes" and enriches the Jewish community. ADL notes the cost for kosher certification is a "miniscule fraction" of the total costs of production.
The National Assembly candidate claimed that kosher and halal certification is "theft" and a "religious tax." She added in a later statement that she didn't intend to "offend or hurt anyone," but did not withdraw her claims either.
Quebec's pro-separatist Premier Pauline Marois, the head of Mailloux's political party Parti Québécois (PQ), defended the statement, saying "her writings are eloquent, I respect her point of view."
"The silence speaks volumes"
In response, Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director charged "the silence of Quebec’s political leadership in the face of Mailloux’s overt, unabashed, anti-Semitic and anti-religious slander speaks volumes."
Foxman noted the silence is particularly troubling given that PQ has been leading a "Charter of Values," considered by many a blatant attack on religious freedom. The charter, known as Bill 60, proposes banning religious symbols, including the Jewish kippah (skullcap), from public workplaces.
“Unfortunately, the failure of leadership to stand up to this hatred has only aggravated an already tense atmosphere, in which Jews and other religious minorities feel their religious freedoms and rights are being questioned and threatened," added Foxman.
Marois announced in early March new elections for the province, to be held April 7. The call led to speculations that Marois may try to translate an election victory into a referendum to split from Canada and declare Quebecois independence.
Another PQ member, Tania Longpre, made a statement last November calling to remove the word "Jewish" from the Jewish Hospital of Montreal, and to introduce a ban on circumcision.