François Legault Quebec anti-racism policy

Legault promises anti-racism policy, still denies systemic racism in Quebec

“We are not putting Quebecers on trial here.”

Quebec Premier François Legault began this afternoon’s press briefing by commenting on recent anti-racism protests and news reports about police brutality. Evoking the Quiet Revolution of the late 1960s, wherein the Québécois effectively liberated themselves from the Catholic Church, Legault called for a a “Quiet Evolution,” and promised some sort of unspecific anti-racism policy for Quebec.

“Perhaps in Quebec we are due for a Quiet Evolution,” François Legault said. “We are consulting and we are going to be preparing a policy against racism. It is very worrisome to hear about how many ministers have been victims of racism.

“I am somebody who is pragmatic, so beyond pretty speeches I want solutions. We must fight against this very bad thing that is eating up our society — it’s no longer tolerable in Quebec.”

Legault later responded to a question about racial profiling in police forces by acknowledging that it exists and must be eradicated — perhaps the Quebec government’s anti-racism policy will address this? — but he also defended his refusal to further discuss the notion that there is systemic racism in the province.

“If we wish to put an end to racism in Quebec, I think that we have to first be clear we are not putting Quebecers on trial here. The vast majority of Quebecers are not racist, but there is racism in Quebec. What has to be avoided is to get divided over one or more words. I think that all Quebecers agree that something has to be done and we have to do it together.”

Legault also responded to a question about increasing calls to defund the police by saying that while he believes more investment in mental health support is necessary, the funding shouldn’t be reallocated from the budgets of police forces.

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