MONTREAL – Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante announced last week that the city will be posting the job of commissioner to fight racism and discrimination.
The creation of this post fulfills one of the key recommendations of Montreal’s public consultation bureau (OCPM) report released in June, which concluded that Montreal has for too long tolerated systemic racism and discrimination by its police department and within city departments.
“Here in Montreal, I can definitely say without any hesitation that racism and systemic discrimination exist,” Plante said at a news conference on Friday.
“Montreal is not alone. It’s connected to the province of Quebec and ultimately it’s up to the premier to decide which words he wants to use, but recognizing it exists doesn’t make Montrealers or Quebecers racists. It’s a way to recognize we have collective biases … whether it’s a lack of knowledge, ignorance or just stereotypes we carry without even knowing it,” she added.
Plante said the ideal candidate will be a specialist in anti-racism work, have demonstrated leadership in the community and good communication and collaborative skills.
The commissioner’s office will include three other staffers, including one specializing in racial profiling who will work full time with the police department and will report to the city’s director general.
Fo Niemi, executive director of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations, said the job posting is a good step, but he hopes the city won’t wait until the office is fully set up to tackle serious issues of discrimination.