Controversial Gatineau councillor questions whether the Earth is round

A municipal councillor in Gatineau who was already under fire for denying the existence of Islamophobia is drawing new scrutiny — for recent comments questioning whether the Earth is round.

Nathalie Lemieux created a controversy last week after she told a reporter the word "Islamophobia'' doesn't exist for her. In the wake of the controversy that followed, she announced she'd be stepping aside as the city's deputy mayor, but would stay on as a councillor.

The Gatineau-based newspaper Le Droit reports that in an online comment two weeks ago, Lemieux suggested there is a conspiracy to eliminate evidence that the Earth is flat. She asked who decided the Earth was round and why should that be believed.

The comments were posted to a story on the Journal de Montréal's Facebook page on Jan. 25.

"The important thing is not what I believe, but the truth that will make people free," she wrote. "The first question to ask is why are people only realizing now that it's possible that the earth is flat, and that people want to hide the explanations that prove it? How much money is diverted to NASA? Who decided that the Earth was round and why believe them? So many questions."

The councillor first entered the spotlight last week when she told Le Droit that Islamophobia is a problem invented by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

She applauded Quebec Premier François Legault for his statement that there is no Islamophobia in Quebec.

After Muslim groups denounced Legault's comments, the premier's office clarified to say Islamophobia exists but there is no culture or current of it in Quebec.

Meanwhile, in a Facebook post Monday morning, Lemieux wrote that she regrets that her comments on Islamophobia upset people, saying it wasn't her intention. But she added Quebec society is "far from Islamophobic".

"On the contrary, I think we've proven ourselves to be open, generous and tolerant," she wrote.

CJAD 800's Richard Deschamps contributed to this report.