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Quebec parliamentarian calls visiting royals parasites; apology demanded

QUEBEC -- The Quebec government demanded an apology from a legislator who compared the Royal Family to parasites and circus performers but he didn't appear to be backing down Tuesday.

The remarks were made by the leader of the tiny left-wing party Quebec solidaire -- who said taxpayers have no business footing the bill for the visit by Prince William and Kate.

According to Quebec's deputy premier, the comments from Amir Khadir demonstrate "a lack of class.''

"There are a large number of Quebecers who have a lot of respect for the royal family,'' said Nathalie Normandeau, a Liberal cabinet minister.

"(Khadir) should set an example. Going after that young couple the way he has, in such a coarse way, demonstrates a lack of class and a lack of respect towards Quebec citizens.''

But the anti-monarchist politician is refusing to take his words back.

Khadir went almost as far in a news conference Tuesday as he did in an earlier interview with a Quebec tabloid -- where he compared the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to "parasites'' and circus freaks people will come out to stare at.

The Quebec solidaire leader, his party's only member of the legislature, stuck Tuesday to his argument that the royals represent a "parastic'' system that should be obsolete in today's world.

"We shouldn't be paying for that,'' Khadir told reporters.

"Taxpayers should not be paying for that! Do you want your tax dollars to be used for a royal couple? As an 'independentiste,' for starters, I'm not in favour of the monarchy.''

He was equally unforgiving when reminded that the event could draw tourists and be good for the local economy. Khadir replied that, in that case, the government was acting like an old-time circus master.

"If this is a tourist attraction I would at least like it if the principals involved, the prince and the princess, knew it -- knew that we're bringing them here a little bit like we do with circus tours,'' Khadir said.

"Are we bringing them here as a tourist attraction or out of respect for royal nobility?''

There will be protests when the royals stop in Quebec, as there almost always is whenever members of the monarchy stop in the province during a Canadian tour.

However the protest, which will be organized by a fringe group, is unlikely to be nearly as large or intense as the one that erupted when William's grandmother, the Queen, visited in 1964.

That event is still remembered as Truncheon Saturday, for the beating police laid on some protestors who disrupted the visit.

A more recent protest when Prince Charles visited in 2009 caused a disturbance at one of his planned Montreal stops but, otherwise, the prince received warm greetings from crowds at his other events in the city.

There's one key group not expected to associate itself with the protestors: the Parti Quebecois, the main pro-independence party.

Its members have had little to say about the visit and raised no objections to it.

The province's third-biggest party, the Action democratique du Quebec, heaped ridicule on Khadir.

ADQ Leader Gerard Deltell said he had no problem with the public picking up the tab for the royals' visit. He added that Khadir's comments were "unworthy'' of a party leader.

He quipped that the royal couple "hasn't killed anyone and they're not war criminals,'' and therefore does not warrant such an over-the-top negative reaction.

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