OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has joined the chorus of politicians calling on a suburban Montreal mayor to apologize for likening Quebec secularism legislation to ethnic cleansing.
Speaking to reporters this morning in Ottawa, Trudeau said Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg's comments were unacceptable.
The prime minister reiterated his opposition to Quebec's Bill 21, which would prohibit public servants in positions of authority — including teachers — from wearing religious symbols. But he said the debate should remain respectful.
Steinberg, whose suburb has a population of about 7,000, drew the wrath of Quebec's political class last Friday when he said Bill 21 "is ethnic cleansing, not with a gun but with a law."
On Tuesday Steinberg rejected multiple demands for an apology, including from Quebec Premier Francois Legault.
He said people were twisting his words and that he was referring to "peaceful ethnic cleansing." He said he fears an apology would detract from his criticism that the bill will cause religious minorities to leave the province.