Mayor promises change after report says Montreal neglected fight against racism


Valerie Plante

MONTREAL – Montreal’s mayor is promising change after a report found the city has neglected the fight against racism and failed to recognize the systemic nature of discrimination.

Valerie Plante said  on  Monday  that the city would implement the report’s recommendations, beginning with a formal acknowledgment of systemic racism.

“Starting today, at city council, I will propose a statement to recognize the systemic nature of racism and discrimination, to affirm the city’s solidarity with the thousands of citizens who have denounced racism and discrimination in all its forms, and, above all, to reaffirm our commitment to act and to put in place the necessary measures to fight them,” she told a news conference.

Plante announced the city will appoint a commissioner responsible for the fight against racism and review its hiring processes to ensure visible minorities are adequately represented in the city’s work force and have the chance to move up the ranks.

She said she was also working with the provincial and federal governments to explore the possibility of outfitting the Montreal police with body cameras, a proposal that the administration previously rejected.

The 261-page document follows a public consultation involving more than 7,000 people and concludes that the city has trouble translating words into action.

Montreal’s public consultation office makes 38 recommendations, starting with a recognition of the systemic nature of racism and discrimination against racialized groups and Indigenous people.

The office’s president, Dominique Ollivier, says in a letter to Plante accompanying the report that the failure to recognize the problem has left the city without the necessary tools to genuinely tackle it.

The report recommends that city council quickly create a new position of Commissioner to Counter Racism and Discrimination, who will draw up an action plan to fight racism.

It also recommends that the city and its boroughs produce data every three years detailing variances between racialized, Indigenous and white people in such sectors as employment, racial profiling, housing and economic development.