The head of an organization overseeing electrical work near two mosques in Côte-des-Neiges, Montreal said there’s no contract barring women from working on the construction site on Fridays, the Muslim day of prayers, the Montreal Gazette writes.
“We never received any request from the mosque or anyone else to remove women from the work site. I spoke to the owner of the company doing work for us and they never received (a request) either. We have good relations with the owner of the mosques.” said Serge Boileau, director of the Commission des services électriques de Montréal, which is responsible for installing underground electrical cables in Montreal.
A report on TVA Nouvelles claimed that mosque officials had forced both an excavation company, G-Tek, and the signals company working for them, Map Signalisation, to make sure only men would be working on the construction site outside the mosques on Fridays.
In the report, G-Tek is said to have a written contract that stipulates the unusual condition, though the contract is not presented. Boileau said that the report contains many “falsehoods”, adding that he’s confused about why people are saying such a contract exists.
A commission employee in charge of inspecting the work on de Courtrai Ave. is a woman and she has never heard of the request either, Boileau said, noting that he’s surprised that his organization has been dragged into the controversy.
Quebec’s Labour minister has asked the Commission de la construction du Québec to investigate, the far-right group La Meute has called for a demonstration outside the mosques on Friday, and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said if the report is true, it would be unacceptable, the Montreal Gazette adds.
The commission, and the company doing the work, do have an agreement with the Ahl-ill-Bait Mosque to do electrical work on its property, and as part of the agreement, construction workers refrain from working on mosque property during Friday prayers to cut down on noise.
The Ahl-ill-Bait Mosque put out a statement on Wednesday saying it had never requested that women be excluded from the construction site in front of its building, adding that the TVA report is false and said it contributes “to the social breakdown between Quebecers of Muslim and non-Muslim faiths.”