Under pressure, MP Pierre Dufour refuses to resign

Under pressure, the deputy Pierre Dufour refuses to resign

Jacques Boissinot Archives The Canadian Press MP Dufour is under pressure because of his comments on the delicate situation prevailing in Val-d'Or. In photo, Pierre Dufour at the National Assembly, in June 2019.

The CAQ member of Abitibi-Est, Pierre Dufour, remains deaf to the many calls for resignation: he defended Tuesday the remarks he made to the municipal council of Val-d'Or on May 15 about the relations between the police and the Natives, going so far as to justify his reference to “a pile of shit”.

“The 'heap of shit', I'll explain it to you,” he said when he arrived at the National Assembly. I wanted to make an analogy to the mayor with the pile of shit saying, “You just arrived in 2021. The problem didn't arrive, boom, in 2021. It's a timeline of events that make so that we arrive at this chaos at the moment.”

When asked by reporters if he was staying on, Mr. Dufour said yes. He also said he “deplores” the fact “that we always try to reduce this to a racialized file”.

“This is not a racialized file. In homelessness, there are all kinds of people, there are all kinds of people,” he said, emphasizing that “he doesn't mind” giving a homeless person a coffee, sometimes .

MP Dufour then claimed that “60 to 65%” of homeless people in Val-d'Or were Indigenous. A “normal” situation, since several services for Aboriginal people have been developed there over the years, he recalled.

His colleague Ian Lafrenière, Minister responsible for Relations with First Nations and Inuit, meanwhile admitted to having received several calls since his colleague's statements.

“I can understand the reactions, by the way. However, our actions speak,” he said. Mr. Lafrenière said he “made a point of talking to partners in the field” on the ground. “We always have the same intention to move forward,” he assured, before acknowledging that “a lot of work remains to be done”.

A session stormy

MP Dufour is under pressure because of his comments about the delicate situation prevailing in Val-d'Or. In recent weeks, the municipality has urged the Legault government to “take responsibility” to fight crime and homelessness downtown. Mayor Céline Brindamour chaired a stormy session on May 15, during which nearly a hundred people showed up to ask her to act.

In the same session, MP Dufour criticized the work of the Viens commission, set up after a report on alleged police abuse of Indigenous women in Val-d'Or. “You've worked, since you took office, with a lot of shit that has been created especially since 2015 when there was the show Enquête, a show full of lies that attacked people. very honest police officers,” he told the mayor.

Since then, the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador has called for the resignation of MP Dufour. Québec solidaire did the same on Tuesday. “Mr. Dufour has not lived up to his duties and therefore can no longer adequately represent the citizens of his riding,” MP Manon Massé wrote on Twitter.

The interim leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec, Marc Tanguay, has meanwhile refrained from calling for the departure of Mr. Dufour. “But that's a question he should ask himself,” he added. In the opinion of the PQ leader, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, the Coalition avenir Québec should “come together and stop doing things that make apologies necessary every day or every week”.

A chosen one who “failed in his duty”

The Association of Native Friendship Centers of Quebec also released a statement on Tuesday. “As an elected official, Mr. Dufour has failed in his duty,” his representatives wrote. They criticized him for holding a discourse that “harms social peace, reconciliation initiatives between peoples and collaborative efforts between Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations and institutions working in the field”.

< p>M. Dufour refused to say that he had been able to inflame an already tense situation. “I've been getting emails, people at my office, text messages, lots, lots of opinions from people who say, 'There, Mr. Dufour, we don't know where anymore. to go, which doors to knock on.” There are shop owners who block their businesses, […] banks who have [reduced their opening hours],” he illustrated.

In his opinion, “everyone everyone wants to do well, but everyone works a little too much in silos”. “So, we have to find a cohesion in there to arrive at common objectives to, precisely, stop this problem of aggression”, he suggested.

At the Blue Room, the Minister of Public Security, François Bonnardel, assured that more police resources would be deployed in Val-d'Or. “It's a problem that is not simple,” he blurted.