Valérie Plante promises change after report finds Montreal has ‘neglected’ fight against racism
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who has tried to present herself as a champion for diversity, found herself on the defensive Monday after a report prepared by the city’s own consultation office detailed racism and discrimination across municipal institutions.
The report, released Monday by the Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM), outlined 38 recommendations that call for sweeping changes: greater transparency, specific targets and accountability at the executive level, for everything from hiring for city positions to policing to cultural programs to housing.
In response to the findings, Plante introduced a motion Monday afternoon at city council to “formally recognize” systemic racism, appoint a commissioner to counter racism, hire more minorities to public posts and improve accountability among the Montreal police service.
“I want you to know that Montreal is a city where every Montrealer is entitled to have their dignity respected,” she said at a news conference Monday.
“I’m firmly committed to implementing systemic solutions to these systemic problems without delay, because there is no time to lose.”
Plante said her administration has already undertaken “a number of actions” to deal with issues of discrimination, citing the creation of a roundtable to advise the city of issues of racism and diversity and housing policies to ensure “access to safe housing does not depend on the socio-economic status of the population.”
Balarama Holness, one of the community activists whose efforts led to the OCPM’s public consultations, praised the report but dismissed the actions Plante trumpeted as having had no impact.