Quebec Premier Pauline Marois says she didn’t intend to offend anyone with comments she made about multiculturalism in England earlier this week.
In an exclusive interview with Le Devoir, Marois said multiculturalism in Britain has led to "people beating each other up and setting off bombs," because British society has no clear sense of identity.
Her comments come as the province grapples with the Parti Québécois’ proposed secular charter, which would see religious symbols like crucifixes and yarmulkes banned for public-sector employees.
Opposition politicians including Liberal leader Philippe Couillard slammed Marois for her statement.
Couillard said Marois showed a “lack of judgement and knowledge.”
In response to the criticism, the Parti Québécois released a statement on Saturday, clarifying Marois’ position.
“The comments she made were, in no way, meant to be offensive and did not constitute an attempt at interfering with policies practiced in the United Kingdom,” the statement said.
Marois said her comments were made in the context of a conversation about models of integration around the world.
She accused Couillard of trying to distract the conversation from the secular charter.
“Instead of trying to sow discord, the Liberal leader should focus on presenting his position to the national assembly and stop giving lessons outside of the parliamentary arena,” she said in her statement.