The Parti Québécois is under fire for the second time in a week over a candidate with controversial views on the province's religious minorities.
Louise Mailloux, a prominent Quebec feminist and philosopher, said this week she stands by her belief that circumcision and baptism are similar to rape and that kosher and halal certification is a tax that goes toward funding religious wars and lining the pockets of religious leaders.
Ms. Mailloux, a staunch supporter of the PQ's proposed Charter of Values, which would impose a dress code banning most religious symbols from the public service, was confronted over her past positions by La Presse. She refused to elaborate but said she "absolutely" stands by her views.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs called on the PQ to debunk the "urban legend of the kosher tax," saying Ms. Mailloux is echoing a conspiracy created by the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups.
PQ Leader Pauline Marois instead endorsed her candidate, saying she's a respected academic who has thought long and hard about these issues.
"Her writings are eloquent, I respect her point of view," Ms. Marois said. "She supports our secular charter and I appreciate her support."
"The Parti Québécois is not an anti-Semitic party. We have very good relations with the leaders of this community and all the different communities in Quebec."
On Thursday, the PQ withdrew the candidacy of Jean Carrière, who used his Facebook page to hurl slurs at Islam and praise Marine Le Pen and the extremist Front National party in France. Ms. Marois insisted the PQ doesn't have a problem with intolerance.
For years now, kosher and halal food have been part of a steady stream of alarm in Quebec over religious practices in the province. Newspapers and TV programs in the province occasionally run stories that detail how much of the food eaten in the province is now certified kosher and halal, and purport to explain that it supposedly inflates prices and causes animals suffering at slaughter. (Animals killed under kosher practice cannot be stunned before their throats are slit by a sharp knife.)
After receiving complaints, the Bouchard-Taylor commission on ethnic accommodation addressed the so-called kosher tax in its 2008 report, saying there was no evidence of price inflation from the certification. They also found rabbis make little money from granting certification. "The most fanciful information is circulating among Quebeckers" on kosher food, the report said.