Whenever the issue of racism raises its head in this province, see how they run.
That’s when Quebec Premier Francois Legault and his cohort of provincial politicians scamper to a place called denial. And secured in that safe space, they do all sorts of weird things, hoping that the issue will go away.
Beat the bush of history in Quebec and see how many commissions of inquiries, investigations and half-hearted attempts have been made to deal with the issue, still today, no change.
Racism continues to lurk: deeply ingrained in the fabric of society, hobbling minorities with debilitating confrontations that keep them constantly at odds with society.
In the meantime, the premier and his cohorts, hiding in their sanctuary of denial refuse to accept racism as the cause behind certain minorities being constantly harassed, abused and over criminalized by an unjust justice system… from police to the courts.
Those politicians are also blinded to the fact that racism is also the culprit behind the woeful overrepresentation of high school dropouts and underrepresentation in post secondary institutions among those same minorities.
And it’s why so many of our good young people become ensconced in a bad place called the juvenile justice system then move seamlessly into the adult criminal system.
If only Premier Legault venture out of denial and peek at the living conditions of certain groups in certain places across Montreal and other municipalities, he might come to understand why COVID -19 was able to cut a wide and savage swath among those same minorities.
And while out of denial, the premier should gather all the politicians, captains of industry, decision makers and important people in Quebec and he’d surely notice that there are hardly any Blacks, Indigenous people or other visible minorities among that group…. again the troublemaker is racism
So because of its persistence and because those with the power to do something about it are still in denial, it seems as if racism is here to stay.
Even more troubling than that realization are the half-hearted efforts of the premier Legault to swat away the pesky racism issue as he goes about his business.
Last year after the murder of George Floyd in the USA and the overflow of protestors and social justice advocates on the streets of cities across North America, he launched a racism commission to tell him what, if anything can be done here in Quebec about the issue.
That commission included his three Black members of his caucus, Lionel Camant, junior minister of Health and minister responsible for Youth Development, Nadine Girault, Immigration minister and minister of Inter-Governmental Affairs minister and Christopher Skeete, who is responsible for relations with the English-speaking community.
One of the “25 action” recommendations they came up with was for the appointment of a minister responsible for the fight against racism.
The premier Legault gladly agreed to it do so and went ahead and appointed Benoit Charette, who is also the Environment minister as minister responsible for the fight against racism.
Not long after the appointment, both men made a point of confirming their place in denial, saying it has nothing to do with systemic racism.
So with that said, the question is about how effective can Mr. Charette be in a fight with an enemy that he cannot even identify.
The answer is: as long as he, the premier and other Quebec politicians are in denial they cannot effectively deal with the issue until they see it for what it is.
Hardly any talk about that. Innstead what we’re hearing is a lot of talk about him being a white man. It does not matter matter what color he is.
It also doesn’t matter what weird determinants went into Premier Legault’s decision to appoint Mr. Charette to lead the fight against racism in Quebec: whether the fact that he has a Black wife, or travelled a lot to countries where there are Black people or maybe the fact that the premier thinks that racism is part of the environment in this province… nothing will change because of the prevailing mindset in government.
There’s however a strand of hope among the man and woman on the street where a recent online poll by Ipsos Reid found that 57 per cent of Quebecers consider racism a serious problem.
And in an online Léger survey of non-Indigenous Quebecers conducted last summer, 92 per cent of respondents said they felt First Nations community members are subject to racism or discrimination in Quebec.
Also the police admit to stopping Blacks and Indigenous people four times more than they do anyone else.
So the problem is not that the minister is a white man, the problem is the fact that he, his boss and his cohorts won’t acknowledge that racism is ingrained in the institutions of the province and that they would rather not to face the impact it has on vulnerable groups also, they’ll do as much as they can to downplay the consequences of the issue of racism.
Classic case of denial, I say. Ask any psychologist.