By Nompumelelo Moyo (LJI)
Keeton Clarke and Joel De Bellefeuile are two prominent Black candidates representing Bloc Montreal in the provincial elections on October 3.
Viewed by many as a protest party, Bloc Montreal was founded this year in June, by Balarama Holness in retaliation to Bill 96. And although its chances of winning a seat seem limited, Bloc Montreal has bought a new conversation to the table as well as an increased number of Blacks and minorities into the political process.
And with it comes the opportunity to bring minorities issues into the political conversation.
Keeton Clarke running in the Marguerite-Bourgeoys district.
Keeton Clarke is a community advocate who will be running in the Marguerite-Bourgeoys district.
He brings his wide-ranging experience in politics and community issues to the process, which includes his candidacy in Sud West borough for Mouvement Montreal. He did not win but the necessary armor to forge ahead.
He is also the president of C.O.R.E Community Outreach Resource Equity Group Canada a non-governmental organization that deals with empowerment of community development, capacity building, socio-economic integration practices and politically diverse cultural representation.
As a long-standing advocate for minority rights, it is only natural that these are on top of his list. When speaking to CONTACT he spoke widely about the Bills 121, 21, 40 and 96. referring to the bills as “destructive and reiterating that “we as a community matter”
He says he is politically experienced and he is not oblivious of the challenges that lay ahead especially for new and small parties.
He cites funding is the biggest challenge in running his campaign.
. He says that he’s also quite aware that minority groups are reluctant to vote for their own because they doubt these politicians can deliver, instead they prefer to go with the status quo making it difficult for minority parties to make it to the National Assembly.
When asked if his participation in the election would entice more Blacks or minorities to get involved in politics, he stated that it would be great if they joined especially young people whom he feels are not interested in politics.
In line with party’s platform highlights he spoke at length about Montreal being financially independent stating that it’s the economic engine of Quebec and Montrealers should be getting their fair share of the largesse of the province.
“My purpose is not to win but to send a message. It is about our concern for our future” says Clarke.
Joel De Bellefeuille candidate for D’Arcy McGee district
The co-founder and director of Bloc Montreal, Joel De Bellefeuille is a candidate for D’Arcy McGee district.
As an entrepreneur, human rights advocate, federal lobbyist and politician, Mr. De Bellefueille states that being part of Bloc Montreal was just a continuation of the work he was doing for the past 15 years.
He also founded Red Coalition Inc. a non-profit organization and lobby group fighting discrimination systemic racism.
He states that he had to “throw his hat in the ring” and “to make his voice heard” and that running in D’Arcy McGee he can relate and identify with the people of that neighborhood.
Speaking about minorities he said its time “we need come together and push back in regards to race and discrimination.”
Quebec Premier Francis Legault who has publicly stated that systemic racism does not exist whilst this counterparts acknowledged it, need to acknowledge that there is discrimination and systemic racism in order to help deal with the problem.
“We all bleed the same color, we have the same fate and whilst we are here on this planet its best to live as comfortable as we can with each other because like I said, we have the same fate,” says De Bellefeuille .
Bloc Montreal Platform highlights
• Asking 20 percent of Quebec Sales Tax (QST) generated from Montreal region s to remain in Montreal (around $2billion annually). This revenue can be used to build affordable housing, parks, after school programs, new sport facilities, green spaces and improve infrastructure.
• They will impose a $5/ day congestion fee on all vehicles of non- residents entering the Island to maintain and enhance the infrastructure of Montreal. In turn Montreal generates new sources of revenue and encourage the use of public transit to protect the environment.
• There will be STM free during rush hours (7a.m to 9a.m and 3p.m to 6p.m)
• They will fight on a mixed-member proportional representation system where 65 out of 125 seats will be selected based on proportional representation from regional lists
• They will repel Bills 21, 32, 40, and 96 as fundamentally undemocratic and anti-Montreal.
• They will get the expansion of Dawson College back on track.
• They will de-politicize the immigration policy by conducting an annual objective and politically independent assessment on how many and what type of immigrates are needed in each region of Quebec and look at the integration capacity within the region.
• They will support admission of genuine refugees seeking asylum and family reunification based on compassionate and not linguistic criteria.