The notion of systemic racism has been written into court rulings. It therefore has a basis which apparently would give the Legault government a simple basis for adopting the concept. That is purely in theory.
In political reality, the notion of systemic racism has acquired a political load which goes far beyond the intention of the jurists who brought it into the world. In the course of political debates, expression has become the spearhead of the multiculturalist left to dampen all attempts to defend the notion of identity.
Quebec remains a cultural minority, in its country and on its continent. I repeat this simple truth, because it is quickly forgotten when some present Quebec as an oppressive majority.
Language and secularism
Accepting the notion of systemic racism today would mean a complete paradigm shift in matters of identity. In the months that would follow, the government would be attacked on the pretext that Law 21 on secularism is incompatible with a society that claims to fight systemic racism.
And then it will be language policy. Imposing a language on new arrivals, restricting them the right to go to the school of their choice, are these not systemic gestures by which the majority imposes its will? Quebec’s entire approach to protecting its language would be weakened.
In the aftermath of an unacceptable death in a public hospital in an odious context of racism, enormous pressure is being exerted on the government. The role of the Prime Minister is to show empathy, listening, and a strong will to act to make a difference. But it cannot escape the rudder of its political orientations.
We understand that in recent days, some ministers and members of the Legault team have been tempted to give in to the pressure. Normal. They receive the emotional representations of people horrified (with good reason) by the death of Joyce Echaquan. They are also shaken by the strong multiculturalist wind blowing in certain media.
This is where the role of the leader comes in. To see further. Hold the rudder bar. Recall long-term goals. Reassure his troops of his sincere intention to bring about changes that will push back racism without ceding ground to his opponents. Without providing his opponents with the crankshaft with which they would pierce his boat.
François Legault has appointed a strong new Minister for Indigenous Affairs. He has free rein to bring about real progress in terms of racism against the First Nations. He could speak of “systemic discrimination” “or” institutional racism “. It could also choose to drop the big concepts and stick to acting energetically in collaboration with the First Nations.
Final thought: since many proponents of the use of the notion of systemic racism are admirers of Justin Trudeau’s multiculturalist approach, they should look this way. Nothing is more systemic in Canada than the foundations and effects of Indian Act.