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Thursday, August 21, 2014

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PQ Minister Raps Shul Parking Policy

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Bernard Drainville

MONTREAL — A Parti Québécois cabinet minister’s criticism of relaxed parking regulations on Jewish holidays are “inappropriate” and “divisive”, Quebec Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard said.

Couillard made the comment in a meeting with representatives of the ethnic media.

Bernard Drainville, minister of democratic institutions, criticized Montreal’s longtime policy of tolerating parking violations, in this instance, on the two days of Shavuot. His point was that if parking rules are waived for each religion’s holidays, it would lead to chaos and a fractured society, and he hinted such a policy is not in keeping with the Quebec “value” of public secularism.

“We cannot start saying we are going to change the highway code and the parking signs according to different religions… We will have parking signs for Jewish holidays, then… for Catholic holidays, and after that parking signs for Muslim holidays. It makes no sense. We cannot manage a society like that.”

Montreal has allowed street parking for around shuls on Jewish holidays since 1984 without incident, said longtime Snowdon councillor Marvin Rotrand.

Drainville apparently only learned of the policy on May 15, the first day of Shavuot, from a TV report that showed city workers covering up no-parking signs.

Drainville, a former Radio-Canada TV journalist, elaborated on his views on the 98.5 FM radio program hosted by Benoît Dutrizac. Dutrizac was found to have breached the broadcasting industry’s standards for “disparaging” remarks about Jews in 2011 related to Hampstead’s anti-noise bylaws on the High Holidays.

The host cautioned the MNA on speaking about Jews. “They will send e-mails to intimidate you. I’ve experienced it, and I imagine you have also,” he said.

Drainville responded: “From the moment that you are in the public space, and public regulations apply, you cannot come and say, ‘I impose my personal beliefs on the rest of society, and I ask that the regulations governing the whole society be adjusted to my particular situation.’”

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