People's Party candidate in Beauséjour faces criticism for 'racist' comments

A candidate for the People's Party of Canada in southeastern New Brunswick who says the "threat" of Islamism "overrunning our nation" is what inspired her to seek election, is facing criticism by two newcomer organizations for comments they say are racist.

Nancy Mercier, who is running in the riding of Beauséjour, says on her campaign website that she's an interfaith pastor and naturopath, not a politician.

But she's worried about the "frailty of our freedoms" and believes Canada needs "a stronger leadership that will do politics differently, which includes, putting Canadians and Canada first."

"We don't want terrorism, basically," she told CBC News. "We want people that are going to come that have values that, you know, we're going to remain safe in our communities."

Mercier contends "radical" individuals "who don't agree with the way that we do things" and are "not afraid to tell us," are already living in New Brunswick and across Canada.

"They're integrated everywhere. They've been allowed in for the last two years and where have they gone, where are they? We don't know. They're unaccounted for. But we know they're here, definitely."

Myriam Mekni, executive director of the Multicultural Association of Greater Moncton, said Mercier's message will make her job of making newcomers feel welcome, regardless of their religion or culture, more difficult.

"This is not the Canada I wanted to settle in and I know it does not reflect the majority of the rest of the political landscape," she said in French.

Mekni described Mercier's comments as "a bit alarming" and "a bit dangerous for everyone; not only for immigrants and newcomers, but also for Canadians who are open-minded and do not agree."

Mercier is also calling for a reduction in immigration.

"It's just unsustainable to bring in the amount of people that we are, especially if they're not economically sound in the sense that we have to give all of our resources to them before we do to Canadians that really deserve that in the first place."

Some immigrants are "just coming to leech our system … and to take, take, take whatever they can. You know, whether it be housing, welfare, health care — all of those sorts of things, where our own people right now are on waiting lists for surgeries, for places to [live]."

CBC

Neil Boucher, executive director of the Francophone Welcome and Support Centre for Immigrants in Southeastern New Brunswick, also found Mercier's remarks worrisome.

"These people, in fact, all they want to do is become good citizens, have a job, pay taxes and be part of the community. That's my experience … whether it's Muslims, Jamaicans, French or Belgians," he said in French.

People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier, who was campaigning with Mercier in New Brunswick on Tuesday, said he supports and shares his candidate's stance on immigration. He said it reflects Canadian values.

"When [you're] seeing that 49 per cent of Canadians want fewer immigrants, are you seeing that 49 per cent of Canadians are racist? No, they're not racist. They like this country, they love this country. And we are having that discussion about immigration because we want this country to be like that in 25 years from now," he said.

Mercier dismisses the notion her position is racist. She noted her brother-in-law, who is a Muslim of Indian and Afghani descent, and a young gay man of Lebanese and Egyptian descent, both live with her.

"They've integrated here very well and they've escaped the type of terrorism that I'm speaking of that they see being brought here now," she said.

Mercier said she welcomes immigrants who are willing to integrate and be productive.

"The more the merrier."