Halal controversy spreads to Quebec

By Melodie Michel

- Last updated on GMT

Halal controversy spreads to Quebec

Related tags Ritual slaughter Kashrut

Canadian Parti Québécois (PQ) deputy André Simard has asked the province’s assembly to give a public report on ritual slaughter by 23 March, arguing that halal meat is being sold without consumers’ knowledge.

The opposition’s official agriculture and food spokesman, Simard said that ritual slaughter was against Quebec’s values, and that the exception must not become the rule.

“For a while, Quebecers have discovered the effect of a legal disposition allowing ritual slaughter. Therefore, we have learnt through the media that Quebec consumers are buying halal meat without knowing it. This lack of transparency is a real problem.

“Consumers need to be able to make an informed choice on the provenance of the products they buy. In this case, it is not normal not to reveal information on the type of slaughter,”​ he said.

According to the independentist party, Simard, a veterinarian by profession, has been contacted by various sources over the past few months to raise awareness on the issue, but was turned down by the province’s agriculture, fisheries and food ministry (MAPAQ) when he asked for more information.

“In Quebec, we made the choice a long time ago to slaughter our food-producing animals following de-sensitising measures and minimising suffering. In their great open-mindedness, Quebecers also accept that, on an exceptional basis, religious communities can proceed to ritual slaughter. But when the exception becomes the rule, there is a problem,”​ Simard added. 

He said he was surprised to learn recently that one of meat processor Olymel’s poultry plants is halal, “without any form of identification”. “This is not a rumour any more, it is confirmed fact. It means that this type of slaughter is widespread, and it worries me,”​ he said.

According to Canadian newspaper The Province​, Olymel’s spokesman Richard Vigneault denied the claim, saying only some of the chickens slaughtered at the plant were killed following halal requirements, for orders from Muslim customers.

Last month, a similar controversy started in France, when far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen declared that all the meat distributed in the Paris area was halal. The statistic was refuted by government and industry leaders, but sparked a national debate on transparency.

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