New tile for the consultation on racism

Photo: Sean Kilpatrick, The canadian Press
The premier of Québec, Philippe Couillard

The current consultation on systemic racism raises a new controversy, as the government Couillard seeks always the way to get it back on the rails.


An organization for the defence of women’s rights came to the conclusion that Quebec was flatly removed to the Commission of human rights the mandate to carry out this consultation which focuses on the systemic discrimination and racism.


Since the government has assigned this task, all of the Commission’s resources are monopolized by the consultation, so that it can no longer fulfil its mandate adequately, lamented the fact that the group Action travail des femmes (ATF), which considers the situation untenable.


The capacity of the Commission of the rights of the person to manage complaints received and requests for notice within a reasonable time is now compromised, according to the director of the ATF, Katia Atif.


It gives evidence for the fact that 17 organizations, including his own, have jointly presented, on 12 July, a request for an opinion to better document the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace and that they have not even received an acknowledgement of receipt three months later.


The organisms at the origin of the request made for a dozen of reminders, to no avail.


There is currently a “breakdown in communication” between the Commission and advocacy groups, concludes Ms. Atif, in a telephone interview with The canadian Press. It is radio silence.


Ms. Atif maintains that in-house, an employee of the Commission has confirmed that it was now impossible to respond to complaints and inquiries in the ordinary course of business, the whole team of the Commission is busy trying to orchestrate the holding of this consultation.

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The Commission “does not have the right to prioritise the rights,” she said, recalling that the organization needs to ensure that it can fulfil all mandates entrusted to him and not only the current consultation.


Therefore, ” the consultation [on racism] should be independent of the Commission of human rights “, according to Ms. Atif, for the sake of efficiency and to avoid being both judge and party.


When asked about it Thursday, the communications service of the Committee on the rights of the person and of the jeunesse (CDPDJ) has denied that the treatment records had been disturbed in any manner whether by the holding of the consultation on racism in the last few months.


According to the head, Meissoon Azzaria, additional resources have been hired to carry out the exercise, which began its work under the supervision of the department of Immigration. The process of analysis of the complaints and the tracking of the records can therefore follow its normal course in the normal time, ” she says.


Quebec wants to correct the shot


It is unclear, moreover, if the arrival of a new minister in the folder — David Heurtel has replaced Wednesday, Kathleen Weil, Immigration — will force the Commission to review the timing of consultation, which sows controversy since its inception.


The opposition parties, fearing that it turns into a court where the Quebec strain would be on the bench of the accused, calling for its abolition, while some liberal members of parliament have questioned publicly its relevance last week, in the aftermath of the bitter defeat of their party in the old fortress of Louis-Hébert, on the occasion of a by-election.

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The prime minister Philippe Couillard had said to have understood the message, intimating that he would bring change, and to ” bring it in the right direction “.


However, it has not said what kind of change he had in mind, nor when he was going to proceed.


One thing is for certain, it seems too late to cancel, work has already begun. “It must be done “, stated the prime minister Couillard Thursday, in reference to this exercise of reflection around the racism that may be experienced by some Quebecers of diverse origins.


“It is necessary to name the issues “, without making to much as ” the trial of anyone “, he repeated, in a scrum of press.


The new minister in charge of the dossier, David Heurtel, went a step further to say that the “conversation” on this subject would take place.


Without giving details, he said that he had in mind ” a plan to evolve it “, the plan would be announced ” very soon “.


In a first time, in October, the consultation is conducted in the regions. Carried out by 31 organizations in 13 regions, local consultations can take different forms : days of reflection, workshops and testimonials.


At the same time, an online consultation should allow to submit briefs in the coming weeks.


A great forum, bringing together experts of the issue, will take place on 4 and 5 December in Montreal, canada.


A final report must be submitted to the government in February.