Parti Quebeois leader Andre Boisclair has sternly repudiated one of his own candidates for comments made about the Rwandan genocide.
Robin Philpot, the PQ candidate in the Montreal riding of St. Henri-Ste. Anne, has come under fire after he was quoted in today's La Presse saying that the word "genocide" does not apply to the Rwandan conflict. The story's headline characterized him as denying the Rwandan genocide.
Philpot's quote echoes assertions he made in his book on the 1994 mass slaughter and rape of members of the African country’s Tutsi minority tribe by militias from its Hutu majority. The book claims both sides in the conflict between the tribes committed atrocities. It also questions the official version of events.
“I am stunnned by this declaration,” Boisclair said in an early morning meeting today with reporters on his campaign tour.
“One thing should be clear, there is no doubt in my mind that there was genocide in Rwanda.”
The head of an association of Rwandan Montrealers has complained about Philpot's candidacy in light of his assertions about the genocide.
In a statement issued today by the PQ, however, Philpot said the newspaper is wrong to write that he has denied there was a genocide in Rwanda in 1994.
“At no time have I denied the existence of a genocide in Rwanda,” Philpot said.
He affirmed he “never questioned the genocide that resulted in close to
one million deaths.”
Boisclair would not comment on Philpot’s future as a candidate, saying he wanted to speak to him first, but was unable to reach him early today.
In the La Presse article, Philpot also downplayed accounts of mass rape in Rwanda, something that made the affair doubly embarrassing for Boisclair in that the story came out the morning of International Women’s Day, during which the PQ campaign intended to focus on women’s issues.
Irwin Block of The Gazette contributed to this report
PQ leader Andre Boisclair says he is troubled by candidate Robin Philpot's denial of the Rwandan genocide of 1994.