Valérie Plante does not want to launch an independent investigation into racism in her public service, despite calls to this effect from the official opposition at city hall.
Mayor Plante argued that the time for “documentation” had passed and that the City was instead in “action” to fight against discrimination.
“I would like to mention that it is a political will, […] but it is also an administrative will,” she said on Wednesday, in response to an investigation by the Duty on the prevalence of racist incidents among City staff. “We take it very seriously. Our thoughts and our empathy are with the people who have been through difficult things. And our roadmap shows that we are in action. And that’s what people want. She notably mentioned the creation of a one-stop shop for victims.
“I was disappointed to read what I saw in the last few days,” said Serge Lamontagne, the city’s director general. “You have to turn over all the stones. It is clear that we still have work to do. It’s not normal for employees to still have a hard time filing a complaint. Mr. Lamontagne asked the City’s 1,800 executives to “go into the field” to speak to their racialized employees.
A few hours earlier, the official opposition at City Hall had demanded an investigation into the matter. Racist incidents are too numerous and too rarely punished, denounced the elected officials of Ensemble Montreal on Wednesday.
“An independent external investigation will allow us to know the extent of racism and discrimination suffered by employees from diversity at the City of Montreal,” said the mayor of Saint-Laurent, Alan DeSousa, at a press conference. “By having a complete diagnosis, we can take the right actions and change the culture of the Montreal public service. »
Abdelhaq Sari, elected opposition member in Montreal North, testified that he himself had been the victim of racist comments from his superiors while working at the Montreal Police Service (SPVM). He said he did not file a complaint to avoid repercussions on his career, a dilemma that many racialized employees face. “Racism and discrimination are everywhere,” he said.
Opposition elected officials also expressed their disappointment with the work of the Commissioner for the Fight against Racism and Systemic Discrimination, appointed two years ago. “It is clear that since he was hired more than two years ago, progress has not taken place as quickly as hoped,” argued Ensemble Montreal. The opposition denounces in particular the fact that the commissioner, Bochra Manai, has never published an “action plan” as planned. Instead, she prepared a list of “commitments”.