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Mayor denounces fifth incident of hateful graffiti in small Quebec town

A sign reading "Saguenay, white city,'' is shown under one for the Saguenay cemetery this image provided by Saint-Honore Mayor Bruno Tremblay. Tremblay says he's called the police after a fifth incident of hateful graffiti in his town. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Bruno Tremblay

A sign reading "Saguenay, white city,'' is shown under one for the Saguenay cemetery this image provided by Saint-Honore Mayor Bruno Tremblay. Tremblay says he's called the police after a fifth incident of hateful graffiti in his town. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Bruno Tremblay

SAINT-HONORÉ, Que. — For Mayor Bruno Tremblay, the latest case of hateful graffiti in his Quebec town was the final straw.

Sometime on Wednesday, "Ville Blanche" ('White Town'') was written in red spray paint on the welcome sign in Saint-Honore, a few hundred kilometres north of Quebec City.

It is the fifth such incident in the community since July 18.

Tremblay said in an interview Thursday he decided to file a complaint with provincial police.

"Yesterday (Wednesday) morning was the worst of the worst," Tremblay said. "That's mischief on public property and I said: 'enough is enough'."

It all started in July when the Islamic association in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region announced it would revisit a plan to have a Muslim cemetery inside a Catholic burial ground in Saint-Honore.

A few days later, someone attached a sign reading "Saguenay, Ville Blanche" ("Saguenay, White Town") under one for the cemetery before it was removed by authorities.

In another incident, a sign was posted near a local church stating there was a change of administration and that an Islamic cultural centre would open in its place.

Tremblay said he thought the incidents would die down after the first one, but they continued in August.

No citizens in the town of 6,000 have told him they were against the cemetery plan, Tremblay said.

In any case, there's a cemetery in place, so there's nothing to be opposed to, he added.

"Whether its someone who is Chinese, German or Arab, there's already a cemetery there," Tremblay said.

"In 2017, we must be more open than this."

Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil told reporters at a Liberal caucus retreat in Val-d'Or, Que., that everyone was perturbed by the messages.

"We denounce these acts with a lot of vigour," Weil said. "I reiterate that this doesn't reflect public opinion."

Tremblay said he complained in case police can tie the events in his town to others in the province.

For its part, provincial police say they are investigating the most recent vandalism.

— By Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal.

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