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TVA, whose parent company is run by former PQ leader, suspends commentator who said he'd hunt separatists over squirrels after complaint filed with cops

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Luc Lavoie testifies at the Oliphant Commission in Ottawa, Monday May 4, 2009.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Luc Lavoie testifies at the Oliphant Commission in Ottawa, Monday May 4, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

MONTREAL — TVA says commentator Luc Lavoie will not return to the network until the Surete du Quebec looks into complaints about his desire to “hunt separatists.”

The Parti Quebecois has denounced the comment, which also caused an uproar on social media, with some calling for a boycott of TVA and Videotron, a sister company that provides cable and Internet service.

TVA and Videotron are owned by Quebecor. The company’s chief executive is former PQ leader Pierre Karl Peladeau.

On Tuesday, Lavoie, a onetime adviser and spokesperson for former prime minister Brian Mulroney, made the comment while discussing petitions tabled in the National Assembly about squirrel hunting. After referring to “hunting separatists,” he let out a hearty laugh.

The SQ received several complaints about the remarks and is “currently analyzing the situation to determine whether a criminal infraction occurred,” Stephane Tremblay, a spokesperson for the provincial force, told the Montreal Gazette.

Late Wednesday morning, the network said that “under the circumstances, (TVA) management has decided to remove Luc Lavoie from the airwaves until the conclusion of this investigation.”

Earlier in the day, TVA said the comments were unacceptable.

“The discussions, debates and exchanges on our airwaves must respect different political convictions,” the network said on its Facebook page. “Luc Lavoie apologized yesterday and management expected nothing less from him.”

 Parti Quebecois leader Jean-François Lisee suggested Lavoie would have been taken off the air immediately if he had made similar comments about Muslims, black people, women, the handicapped or Jewish people.

PQ MNA Anges Maltais also denounced the comment, pointing to two Quebec political shootings. In 1984, Denis Lortie killed three workers after storming the National Assembly; the PQ was in power at the time. In 2012, as then-PQ leader Pauline Marois gave her election night victory speech, Richard Bain killed Denis Blanchette outside the Metropolis nightclub.