Mayor plans to bring town back to life by attracting Muslims

The National Post catches up to Vlad Tepes! And only five days later!

Stephane Gendron, Mayor of Huntingdon, Quebec outside his offices in Huntingdon, March 16, 2011

Christinne Muschi for National Post

Stephane Gendron, Mayor of Huntingdon, Quebec outside his offices in Huntingdon, March 16, 2011

Graeme Hamilton, National Post · Mar. 16, 2011 | Last Updated: Mar. 16, 2011 9:32 PM ET

HUNTINGDON, Que. — The textile mills here have closed, the population is shrinking, but Mayor Stéphane Gendron is not abandoning hope. Elected in 2003 under the slogan, “Let’s bring this town back to life!” Mr. Gendron has a new plan to revitalize his community of about 2,600 people — build a mosque and establish a Halal slaughterhouse in a town with hardly any Muslim residents.

At a time when Quebec’s growing Muslim population feels targeted by the ongoing debate over the integration of religious minorities, Mr. Gendron is laying out the welcome mat.

On Monday, the municipal council passed a bylaw offering a one-year property tax holiday for people born outside Quebec who move to Huntingdon. On Friday, he will address congregants of a Montreal mosque following prayers to sell them on the charms of his town. In the spring, he is planning a bus tour for Montreal Muslims interested in a change of scenery.

“Somebody told me that these people have to change their names to get an interview for a job. Just because [employers say] ‘Oh an Arab, dangerous.’ It’s sad,” Mr. Gendron said. “We’re trying to turn the tide, to change the view that it’s dangerous. We’re doing this for population [growth] and for principle.”

The initiative comes as Quebec Muslims still feel the sting of the 2007 debate over Hérouxville’s “life code.” The small town in Quebec’s Mauricie region introduced a code informing newcomers that, among other things, Quebecers do not stone women and they only cover their faces at Halloween.

Mr. Gendron said the incident left the impression that all of rural Quebec was suspicious of Muslims. “Hérouxville did a lot of damage to the regions,” he said. But he sees his bilingual town, about 60 kilometres southwest of Montreal, as a world removed from Hérouxville.

“Here it’s a different story. The town was based on immigration from the start — the British, Scottish, Irish French, Germans, Jewish. They all lived together for 200 years,” he said. “There’s a tradition of tolerance, I think.”

Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal, called the Huntingdon initiative very positive. “We certainly do appreciate that it is quite a contrast with Hérouxville,” he said. “It’s the anti-Hérouxville.” Mr. Elmenyawi said council members plan to visit Huntingdon this spring “to have a look and see what exactly are the resources in the town and the possibilities that are there.”

Quebec’s most important source of immigrants is the largely Muslim region of North Africa. Quebec has favoured such countries as Algeria and Morocco because their residents are French-speaking. A 2009 study by researchers at the Université de Sherbrooke found that unemployment rates among immigrants from the two countries were more than double the provincial average. For those immigrants who had been in Quebec five years or less, unemployment was more than four times higher than the provincial average.

Mr. Elmenyawi said the Huntingdon plan would only work if there were work available. “The mayor says there is no discrimination and that people will be treated equally,” he said. “That might encourage many people to go look for a job when they have not been able to find a job here because they were Muslims, they have Muslim names or they came from a specific country.”

Residents interviewed had no objection to Muslims arriving in their town but some questioned Mr. Gendron’s seriousness. The mayor has earned himself a reputation as something of a publicity hound since taking office. One of his first initiatives was an unsuccessful attempt to impose a curfew on the town’s teenagers, whom he blamed for a vandalism spree.

“Sometimes our mayor feels the need for attention,” said Maurice Pilon, a former town councillor. “I’m very open to new arrivals. We’ve already got four churches and a fifth religion wouldn’t bother me in the least.” But he wonders how long newcomers would last in a town that is not bursting with employment opportunities. “We can’t mislead these people,” he said.

Mr. Gendron is optimistic that there will be jobs. He said many of those lost in the textile industry were replaced by new employers producing frozen french fries and car parts. And he notes that many people in his town commute to Montreal for work.

Discussions to establish a mosque are preliminary, but he hopes that when his term ends in 2013 — and he says it will be his last — Friday prayers will be part of Huntingdon’s routine.

National Post

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8 Replies to “Mayor plans to bring town back to life by attracting Muslims”

  1. If and when the ‘followers of the teachings of the prophet’ gain the majority this doofus dimwit will be the first one to be voted out of office and replaced by a ‘faithful follower’.

  2. Gendron is not only a useful idiot but it is because of his mentality that his town is a welfare bum.

    Gendron is known for saying that Israelis are modern-day Nazis (“Les Israéliens, ce sont les nazis des temps modernes”);he later claimed that he only referred to the current Government of Israel, and that it was not exaggerated to compare that government with the Nazis. In his demented left wing view, the Jews are the Nazis and the muslims are the jews. So do not expect any investments from Jewish owned companies to come running with cash.

    At the federal level, the elected party is the Bloc Quebecois. At the provincial level, it is the Parti Quebecois. They will either be left or right depending on the hour of the day, as long as it is the best thing for the Quebecois and the Quebecoises of Quebec. In other words, sucking the nipple of the Rest of Canada at that moment is OK as long as it brings money to Quebec.

    So Stephane Gendron, the BQ and PQ, are a good deal responsible for the high taxes that Quebec has. Quebec is the highest taxed and most indebted governing area in the western world per capita taking into account the Quebec debt and its portion of the Federal debt!!

    The Quebecois are the palestinians of Canada when it comes to welfare on a per capita basis so it is natural for him to look to Saudi for help!!.

    When Gendron realizes that he has made a deal with the devil, it will be too late for Huntingdon.

  3. “There goes the neighborhood” doesn’t even scratch the surface of this idiocy.

    If he wants to revitalize the town, he should be going to France or Italy or anywhere else but to Islamic groups. He is signing the town’s death warrant.

    Once they establish their own no-go zones, he will be ruing the day that he went to Montreal.

    And once he gets his Muslim families in town, there goes Quebec culture.

    What an ass. A naive and stupid ass. Not to forget an anti-semite.

  4. “On Monday, the municipal council passed a bylaw offering a one-year property tax holiday for people born outside Quebec who move to Huntingdon.” I wonder how the residents of Huntingdon feel about that. Some of them have been there for generations so why shouldn’t THEY get a tax break too? Gendron wants to revitalize his town? Presumably, this means he wants people who can inject money into the economy by setting up businesses and paying their own way. How does a tax break help to do this?

    “One of his first initiatives was an unsuccessful attempt to impose a curfew on the town’s teenagers, whom he blamed for a vandalism spree.” If he thinks Quebecois teenagers are bad when it comes to vandalism, wait till he experiences the immigrant muslim “youths” who will eventually intimidate and cause unimaginable property damage. (See what happened in France THERE GOES THE NEIGHBOURHOOD!

    In addition, let us see how he and the residents of Huntingdon like having the muslim call to prayer blasted five times a day on loudspeakers.

    Gendron obviously knows NOTHING about islam to be recommending this. To me this move by Gendron was shocking. I know this area and the people very well. They would live to regret this invitation.

    Gendron seriously needs to be VOTED OUT of office.

  5. And we here hope that the mayor who has taken the time to put out such a lovely welcome mat gets everything that is due to him.

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