Montreal cleans slate at deradicalization centre

The director and five of seven board members have left a Montreal-based deradicalization initiative launched in 2015. A city spokesperson cited "internal management issues."

Director removed, majority of board resigns as city cites 'growth crisis'

Herman Deparice-Okomba, who had served as director of the Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence, will return to another department within the City of Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Citing a "growth crisis" and "internal management issues," the City of Montreal and the Quebec Public Security Ministry have cleaned house at the deradicalization centre set up to much fanfare in November 2015. 

Five of seven board members have quit the Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence (CPRLV), and the centre's director, Herman Deparice-Okomba, has been removed.

Deparice-Okomba, a city employee, will return to work in another department, City of Montreal spokesperson Linda Boutin said in an emailed statement.

Boutin said that as other organizations have gained expertise in the area of deradicalization, "it became clear that the centre was experiencing a growth crisis." 

"The centre's management did not necessarily have the right tools, which led to internal management issues."

Radio-Canada previously reported allegations of management problems at the agency, which were denied by Deparice-Okomba at the time.

A transitional board will review the mandate and role of the CPRLV, the city said in a news release. Montreal has set aside $225,000 for the transition period.

New Zealand terrorist attack underlines need

Boutin said the terrorist attack in New Zealand points to the importance of preventing radicalization, which will be a consideration as the program is evaluated. 

"The revised mandate of the centre will take into account the new realities of radicalization leading to violence," Boutin said.

The centre, headquartered in Montreal with some staff in Quebec City, offers psychosocial counselling to radicalized individuals, helping them reintegrate into society, and conducts research into various types of extremism.

In recent years, it has dealt with a spike in extreme-right radicalization. The group received 74 such reports in 2017, compared to 11 in 2016 and 13 in 2015.

According to the release, the changes follow "external consultations" and an audit by the city's comptroller. The audit has not been made public.

The transitional board will see two new members who have been appointed by the city joining the two remaining board members, who are from the provincial Health and Public Security ministries. This transitional administration is expected to last four months, according to the city.

Montreal and the province have invested more than $6 million in the CPRLV since its founding in 2015.


John MacFarlane


John MacFarlane is a journalist at CBC Montreal. He also works as a filmmaker and producer.


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