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A motion unanimously adopted by Quebec’s National Assembly says the province is among the most “open and welcoming places in the world” – but some critics disagree.
The motion, which was adopted without debate, specifies the province is no more racist than elsewhere.
Community leaders though point to legislation like Bill 21 and the government’s past comments on systemic racism – saying it doesn’t exist in the province – as proof the motion is not based on Quebec’s reality.
“What we have in this province is we have a government that is clearly racist, a government that refuses to accept that there is a problem with racism in Quebec,” said Fareed Khan, the founder of Canadians United Against Hate.
“The fact that they felt the need to make such a resolution speaks volumes about the fact that Quebec is in many ways not an accepting and open society.
“What it says is that rather than deal with the problem, admit the problem is there and deal with it, they would rather deny it.”
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The motion denounces any accusations that racism is present more in Quebec compared to elsewhere.
It also denounces any link between racism and Quebec’s secularism law, known as Bill 21, which bans some public servants in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols, like a hijab, a turban, or a kippah, while on the job.
“All their policies are aimed at limiting immigrants coming into the country,” said Kwadwo Yeboah, a criminal defence lawyer. “That’s not a sign of welcoming to me.”
“I don’t see any other province that has like Bill 21,” added Nakuset, the director of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal. “That means that we are trying to stop people from being who they are.”
A recent Angus Reid poll on Islamophobia in Canada shows more than half of respondents in Quebec had an unfavourable view of Islam.
“It’s only open and accepting if you arrived here, shed your faith, shed your identity, shed your culture, and assimilate into the white francophone culture of this province,” said Khan.
“The government in place right now is the one that denies a lot of things like systemic racism,” said Yeboah. “And every single study made shows that there’s systemic racism in Quebec. I think they’re the only people that think it’s something that doesn’t exist.”
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“Certain government leaders are putting their head in the sand and just ignoring exactly what is going on around them,” added Nakuset.
A petition created by Québec solidaire is asking the CAQ government to recognize the existence of systemic racism and discrimination in the province, pushing for the adoption of Joyce’s Principle.
It was named for Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old mother from Manawan who died in 2020 in a Joliette hospital shortly after recording staff mocking her. The principle failed to be adopted in 2020 because provincial party leaders objected to its use of the term “systemic racism.”
“The kinds of issues that Indigenous people face have not changed,” said Nakuset. “And the reluctance for them to embrace choice as principle is incredibly disappointing, but not surprising.”
“The fact that the government refuses to accept that and the fact that the other opposition parties actually backed them on that says to me that racism is very deeply rooted in this province and that should make anybody angry,” added Khan.
The post Is Quebec one of the most ‘open and welcoming’ places? Some critics strongly disagree appeared first on CityNews Montreal.
Is Quebec one of the most ‘open and welcoming’ places? Some critics strongly disagree
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