Nadine Girault anti-racism action group quebec

Nadine Girault, Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie

Quebec creates anti-racism action group

A group of seven CAQ ministers will recommend measures to combat racism in the province.

François Legault has just announced that Quebec will be launching an anti-racism action group of seven CAQ ministers to recommend measures to combat racism in the province. Legault introduced the project and continued to deny the existence of systemic racism, in his statement and the media questions that followed. Reporters were unable to get the other three ministers on hand, including two people of colour, to admit that there is systemic racism in the province either.

“If there’s a file on which we have to work together, it’s the fight against racism,” said François Legault. “I’m very proud to announce today that we are going to be creating a Quebec anti-racism action group that would be co-presided by Lionel Carmant, Nadine Girault and Sylvie D’Amours, the minister responsible for Indigenous affairs, because there is racism there as well.

“The important word here is action. You know that I’m not a big fan of committees and groups and forums and round tables, so I have asked the co-presidents to quickly bring about recommendations for actions as of the fall so that we can quickly to bring about effective action. (These actions) will touch many sectors including of course public safety, but the problem is much more broader than that. There will also be justice, the school system, housing, employment.

“We don’t want to import the climate of people confronting one another like there is in the United States. I think there’s a consensus in Quebec on two things: first, the vast majority of Quebecers are not racist; two, there is racism, there are racist people in Quebec, and we have a duty to get results. That means that we have to act, we have to do it together in our way to avoid getting divided, for example, over just one word. We have to no longer tolerate racism, and we are now at the stage of getting to action.”

One reporter asked Legault about how he squares Bill 21, which “bans the wearing of religious symbols such as a hijab or kippah by public servants in positions of authority” in Quebec, with the creation of the anti-racism action group.

“For me, secularism, it’s not racism — that’s it, that’s all,” Legault replied. “So we cannot mix the Bill 21 and fighting against racism. Bill 21 is about secularism and it’s good for everywhere in the world, whatever is the colour of the people.”

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the adoption of Bill 21. A protest was held outside Legault’s Montreal office. ■

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