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Hampstead mayor should apologize for comparing Bill 21 to ‘ethnic cleansing’: Trudeau

Category: Political News,Politics

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.

READ MORE: Hampstead mayor won’t apologize after comparing Quebec secularism bill to ‘ethnic cleansing’

Speaking to reporters this morning in Ottawa, Trudeau said Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg’s comments were unacceptable.

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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.

READ MORE: Montreal students, aspiring teachers blast Quebec’s secularism bill in school walkout

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.”

WATCH BELOW: Will Montreal city hall defy Quebec secularism bill?

On Tuesday, Steinberg rejected multiple demands for an apology, including from Quebec Premier François Legault.

READ MORE: ‘Quebec will always be open’: Immigration minister defends religious symbols bill

Hampstead councillor Leon Elfassy, who is demanding an apology and retraction, says Steinberg is “stubborn.”

He told Global News people have been calling city hall to make threatening comments.

WATCH BELOW: West Island communities voice opposition to Quebec’s religious symbols bill

What Steinberg said was “sad and dangerous,” Elfassy said. “I wish he would retract his stupid statement.”

Steinberg argues people were twisting his words and that he was referring to “peaceful ethnic cleansing.”

READ MORE: Quebec religious symbols bill would affect students planning to be teachers, police officers

He said he fears an apology would detract from his criticism that the bill will cause religious minorities to leave the province.

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