The mayor of Huntingdon, Quebec Stephane Gendron drew criticism two years ago when he said in a television interview that Israel “does not deserve to exist.” Now, he’s facing fire for boasting on air that he runs over cats and even newborn kittens with his truck in an effort to control the stray cat population in his neighborhood.
“When I see a cat in the street, I accelerate,” Gendron said recently on his French-language radio show.
“First of all, cats have no business being in the road. It’s a stray cat when it’s in the road and BANG I accelerate,” Gendron said according to a CTV translation.
The Canadian Press reports that he didn’t stop there.
“The other day I backed up over a newborn and I’m sure it didn’t feel a thing,” Gendron said. “The pickup passed over him like it was nothing.”
Canadian Press reports that an on-air colleague called his comments “sick.”
Gendron’s words are also being condemned by the SPCA which says it’s planning to investigate. CTV reports that under Canadian law, willfully harming an animal is punishable by up to five years in prison.
That threat prompted the mayor of the town of 2,450 to issue an online apology in which he attributed his “largely exaggerated” comments to “dark humor.”
Stray cats have been a pet peeve for the mayor/radio host even before this latest controversy. The Huntingdon town council recently adopted a bylaw requiring cat owners to sterilize their pets, according to Canadian media reports.
“On July 9, 2013, I made largely exaggerated comments on the overpopulation of cats that constitutes a nuisance in our urban and rural areas,” Gendron’s clarification statement said according to CP.
“I myself have to deal with this problem on my property, with many dozens of stray cats that come and cause problems,” he said.
“I admit that the imagery used served no purpose in advancing the debate on this issue…For all these reasons, I apologize. The use of dark humor was inappropriate in dealing with such a subject,” the Canadian mayor added.
Gendron also said that small towns like his don’t have animal shelters and that euthanizing every stray by a veterinarian is unaffordable.
CP points out that Gendron in his statement did not say flat out if his stories about running over kittens were truthful or just dramatic exaggeration.
That’s apparently irrelevant for the SPCA which says it is now in the process of searching for those who may have evidence to his admitted cruelty to animals.
“(We’re) obviously shocked and horrified to hear something like that – coming from anybody, but particularly from someone like that who has a platform,” SPCA Montreal spokeswoman Alanna Devine tells CP.
“Someone who has a radio show and who is an elected public official — (we’re) absolutely horrified,” she adds.
Even if it turns out that Gendron’s stories were in jest, it’s still “unacceptable and totally horrendous nonetheless” according to the SPCA spokeswoman.
The mayor’s anti-feline sentiments were preceded by a history of anti-Israel expressions.
In a television interview in 2011, Gendron lamented that “unfortunately, Israel has not yet collapsed” and that Israel “does not deserve to exist.” His words were publicized to the English speaking media by Honest Reporting Canada, a pro-Israel website that promotes what it describes as fairness and accuracy in reporting on the Middle East.
In that interview, he also termed Israel an “apartheid state.”
Here are some of the mayor’s controversial comments, excerpted by the Daily Mail: