Plante administration seeks to make Montreal 'more inclusive'

The Plante administration will announce on Monday the creation of a roundtable to address discrimination and diversity issues in the city.

Roundtable to be announced today to address discrimination and diversity issues in the city

After the election, Valérie Plante was criticized for appointing an all-white executive committee. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

The Plante administration will announce later today the creation of a roundtable to address discrimination and diversity issues in the city, CBC News has learned. 

Made up of about a dozen members of Montreal's different cultural communities, the roundtable will meet regularly at City Hall during the next year with the goal of "making Montreal more inclusive," according to a source within the Plante administration. 

Among its objectives are highlighting major issues concerning discrimination and diversity, and identifying what practices need to be put in place.

The roundtable will be expected to make recommendations on the best ways to diversify municipal decision-making bodies. It will also look at the employment and recruitment of visible minorities in public services and their access to social housing.

The roundtable is expected to meet with Mayor Valérie Plante, or if needed, her press attaché, every two months to go over their work.

They will be expected to present a list of recommendations by December 2018. Their first meeting is scheduled for Friday at City Hall.

Plante criticized for lack of diversity in executive committee

Plante campaigned on a promise to make her administration representative of Montreal's diversity. After the election, she was criticized for naming an executive committee that had no visible minorities.

"It's a shortcoming, clearly, the [lack] of cultural diversity, in the city council in general," Plante said at the time.

She pointed out that while visible minorities make up 30 per cent of Montreal's population, that number is not reflected in city council, where only four of 65 councillors are from visible minority communities.

In an attempt to address the criticisms about lack of diversity, Plante named one of those councillors — Cathy Wong of the opposition Équipe Denis Coderre — as speaker of city council. 

The roundtable will be expected to make recommendations by the end of 2018. (CBC)

Provincial systemic racism inquiry watered-down

Studying discrimination issues has recently proved controversial in Quebec provincial politics. 

Responding to demands from anti-racism groups, the Couillard government had announced earlier this year its intention to hold public consultations into systemic racism. 

But the announcement was met with criticism from the Coalition Avenir Québec, the Parti Québécois and even some Liberals, who denied systemic racism was a problem in Quebec. 

​In October, the government recast the consultations as a diversity forum focusing instead on creating economic opportunities for immigrants and visible minorities.

In his opening statements at a diversity forum event held last week in Quebec City, Premier Philippe Couillard never mentioned the words discrimination or racism.

In response to the changes, a citizen-led coalition announced its plan to hold its own consultations on racism and discrimination in the province.