Bochra Manaï

Montreal picks Bochra Manaï as anti-racism commissioner amid criticism

The city has taken too long to fill the position, and missed an opportunity to hire a Black Montrealer, say critics.

The city of Montreal has chosen Bochra Manaï as its first anti-racism commissioner. This post was announced by Mayor Valérie Plante in the summer, based on the recommendations of an in-depth report on systemic racism in the city.

According to 24 Heures, for two years Manaï was the executive director of Parole d’ExcluEs, an organization that fights poverty and social exclusion in Montreal North. She has also served as a spokesperson for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, and has been an outspoken opponent of Quebec’s Bill 21.

Manaï has a PhD in urban studies from the National Institute of Scientific Research (linked to UQAM) as well as two master’s degrees (in human geography and in migration and interethnic relations) from schools in France, where she grew up. She is also the author of the book Les Maghrébins de Montréal, published in 2018.

The city has been criticized by Montréal en Action’s Balarama Holness for taking three months longer than forecast to fill this position, and for choosing someone of North African (Tunisian) descent rather than a Black person.

When asked about the selection process in a press conference this afternoon, Mayor Valérie Plante said, “It was a very rigorous process, and for me the process is a guarantee of the quality of the person who was chosen.”

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