MONTREAL – About 50 community groups and organizations took part in a march in Montreal on Sunday afternoon to voice their concern over proposed Quebec laws they say are racist.
A heavy police presence followed demonstrators as slogans were chanted and the march disrupted city traffic.
Marlihan Lopez, vice-president of the Quebec Women’s Federation and organizer of the event, says she hopes this demonstration will help government officials see that people are affected by their proposed laws, a reality to which she says they are blind.
“We’re still trying to convince the government that there is actual systemic racism in Quebec,” Lopez said.
Lopez believes controversial legislation such as Bill 9 is not respecting the religious rights of minorities.
Bill 9 is the Quebec government’s proposed immigration reform that would see 18,000 immigration applications abruptly cancelled.
It includes an amendment to the Quebec Immigration Act to “clarify” its goals, including ensuring that immigrants learn French and integrate the “democratic values and the Quebec values expressed by the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.”
Bill 9 also gives the immigration minister the power to impose conditions on “foreign nationals” seeking permanent resident status, to ensure they are meeting, among other things, regional labour needs, as well as the province’s “linguistic, social or economic integration.”
The bill doesn’t, however, offer specifics on how that would be done.
“We need to tackle the issues in policies that are more inclusive instead of creating racist policies and laws that exclude people,” Lopez said.