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Quebec towns reject Hérouxville immigrant code

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 7, 2007 | 11:09 AM ET

Several Quebec towns are taking steps to distance themselves from a controversial immigrant code recently adopted in the Mauricie town of Hérouxville.

The neighbouring community of Grandes-Piles launched a petition denouncing Hérouxville's code of conduct for immigrants, and Sainte-Thècle's mayor is speaking out against the list of rules.

Many are worried the Herouxville code — which forbids stoning and genital mutilation, among other directives — has tarnished Mauricie's reputation.

"We wanted to make a point so people know that it's not everyone in the region that's thinking the same as Hérouxville," said Pascal Gingras, a Grandes-Piles resident who created the petition.

"The mayors of the region that have [adopted] this motion … didn't consult the population, so this motion has no value," he said Tuesday.

Fifty people in the 450-resident town have signed the document, including Marcel Dussault, owner of the Copains D'Abord restaurant.

"I have the impression that someone created a scenario to make people believe there's some kind of threat. I've never felt threatened," he told CBC in a French interview.

Mayor raps code

Municipal leaders in Sainte-Thècle told the CBC the town has no intention of following in Herouxville's footsteps. "Municipalities have no right to dictate like that," said Sainte-Thècle Mayor André Veillette.

He believes Hérouxville is misrepresenting Quebecers in the Mauricie.

"The real Mauricie is welcoming," he said. "It's a region where quality of life is exceptional, and we have no reservations about accepting newcomers here."

Veillette said he met with Hérouxville Coun. André Drouin in January, telling him his code was a bad idea.

Towns weigh in on debate

In Huntingdon, southwest of Montreal, municipal councillors adopted a resolution Tuesday night supporting multiculturalism, and called for the separation of religion and state.

Other towns in the Mauricie have already taken steps to support Hérouxville's code.

Saint-Adelphe and Trois-Rives adopted resolutions Feb. 5 that demand the Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms be modified to restrict reasonable accommodation for religious groups.

St-Roch-de-Mékinac also endorsed a separate motion recognizing Hérouxville's code.

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