Montreal must hold a public consultation on systemic racism and discrimination, after 20,000 people signed a petition calling for one.
About 10 people went to city hall on Friday to pick up a letter from the city saying their petition for a public consultation was successful.
The city now has 21 days to give Montreal in Action, the group behind the petition, a schedule for the consultations. Anyone can compel the city to carry out a public consultation if they collect at least 15,000 signatures, under a Montreal bylaw called right of initiative.
“I had conversations that opened my eyes about the city that I live in,” said Aïssatou Diallo, a 19-year-old political science student who helped collect signatures. She met people who disagreed with the petition’s message, “but I also realized that a lot of young people who are like me are aware of the issues we have right now, and they want the same thing as me,” Diallo said.
Montreal in Action wants an action plan on systemic racism and discrimination to come out of the consultations with a budget attached to it. They’re also calling for a committee to monitor progress on the issue, and a yearly report that says whether the city is meeting objectives identified through the public consultations.
“It’s going to have an accountability measure so that politicians can no longer simply speak about diversity — or present themselves at festivals or events that raise diversity — without enacting measures that reflect diversity,” said Balarama Holness of Montreal in Action.
Racism and discrimination are “hot potato” issues in Montreal, and the consultations will be an opportunity to have a broad public conversation about inclusion, said Joël Nawej Karl Itaj.