MONTREAL — The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador is calling for a member of Quebec's governing Coalition Avenir Quebec party to resign after he suggested numerous Indigenous women lied about being sexually assaulted by police officers.
Ghislain Picard, the organization's chief, says the only "honorable" thing Pierre Dufour can do is resign after his "disgraceful" comments about a Radio-Canada report alleging police abuse and about the conclusions a public inquiry made on the relationship between Indigenous people and Quebec public servants.
"I think there are (members of the legislature) or ministers who have been asked to resign for less," Picard said in a phone interview on Monday.
Picard also called Dufour's comments "inexcusable" and said people need to be able to have a minimum of faith and trust in their elected officials.
"It's precisely because one is an elected official that they need to pay a bit more attention to what they say," he said.
Dufour made the comments while speaking about the issue of homelessness during a May 15 city council meeting in Val d'Or, Que., a city in his riding of Abitibi-Est about 500 kilometres northwest of Montreal.
After touting the programs offered by the provincial government to address the issue, Dufour added the city council inherited a "pile of shit" created by a 2015 episode of the Radio-Canada investigation show Enquête, which looked into physical and sexual assaults of Indigenous women in the community by police.
The show was "full of lies" and attacked "police officers that were very honest," Dufour said, before adding there may have been some crooked police officers in the community 30 years before.
"This report won awards, but it created a split between the police service and the community, which didn't protect the police officers afterwards," he said.
Dufour went on to say a public inquiry, known as the Viens Commission, which launched partially in response to the Enquête broadcast, said police were racist against Indigenous people because they ticketed more homeless people.
He said police officers didn't feel supported after the allegations and only did "the strict minimum" at their jobs, he said.
Val d'Or has been served by the Quebec provincial police since 2002.
Dufour later posted on Facebook the comments were made while he was emotional and he misspoke.
"The situation in Val d'Or is concerning. It's a sensitive and complex issue," he wrote, adding that he's working with the mayor and public security to ensure the safety of all citizens "without exception."
But for Picard, that's not enough.
"For me, it's kind of a slap in the face to the efforts that we're trying to make to encourage a better understanding of the situation not just in Val d'Or but across Quebec," he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 22, 2023.
Mathieu Paquette, The Canadian Press