Ethics investigation into Senator Boisvenu’s associations with white supremacist Facebook groups criticized

Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu

THE National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) said on Tuesday that it is deeply disappointed with the results of the Senate Ethics Officer Pierre Legault’s examination of Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu’s ties to far-right Facebook groups.

Boisvenu was a member of several far-right Facebook groups, including Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (known by its German acronym PEGIDA), the Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens, and most concerningly, a group associated with Quebec’s La Meute.

La Meute’s members have been affiliated with extreme far-right groups like Atalante, neo-Nazis and the deadly Charlottesville Unite the Right rally. Four months prior to a gift-wrapped severed pig’s head being placed at the door of the Quebec City Mosque, members of La Meute discussed a near identical plan online, down to attaching a card to the severed head.

This was the same mosque that was subjected to the worst attack on a religious institution in Canadian history on January 29, 2017, when six Quebecers were murdered and several others left injured by a gunman who was motivated by Islamophobia and frequented similar online groups.

“It is deeply troubling that an apology as contradictory and evasive as the Senator’s can result in ending an investigation into a Senator’s participation in extreme hate groups online,” said Mustafa Farooq, Executive Director. “The Senator’s ‘apology’, where he stated that he was added without his consent to a number of far-right groups, is fundamentally at odds with his previous statement where he noted that he joined the La Meute associated Facebook group ‘out of curiosity.’ It is also concerning that a Senator can join white supremacist and Islamophobic groups online, and then escape scrutiny by posting an evasive apology where there is no mention of the problem of Islamophobia. Canadians deserve better.”

The NCCM said it disagreed with the Senate Ethics Officer that Boisvenu’s apology was “convincing”. It demanded that Boisvenu provide a real apology to the Muslim community in the province as they approached the third anniversary of the Quebec City Mosque massacre. Such an apology should include precisely what steps the Senator will undertake to live up to his commitment for “diversity, multiculturalism, and equality that this country proudly upholds”, the NCCM added.