The person in charge of the fight against racism at the City of Montreal, Cathy Wong, invited Tuesday the dean of the city hall, Marvin Rotrand, to give way to the next municipal elections in order to facilitate the arrival of candidates from the diversity. Words that aroused the ire of the opposition.
Elected officials unanimously adopted Tuesday, in a city council meeting, an amended version of a motion by Snowdon’s independent councilor, Marvin Rotrand. In particular, it asks municipal parties to review their nomination regulations in order to ensure that a third of their candidates for the next municipal elections, next year, are “from diversity”. Among them, the motion includes, in particular, members of visible minorities or of aboriginal origin as well as persons with disabilities.
In 2013, the former councilor of the district of Saint-Michel, Frantz Benjamin, presented a similar motion. Then, in 2016, Mr. Rotrand submitted a similar motion to elected officials. Both were adopted.
Currently, only 4 out of 65 elected to city council are members of a visible minority. Among them is Cathy Wong, who joined Project Montreal last year. The other three are advisers from Ensemble Montréal, namely Alan DeSousa, Abdelhaq Sari and Josué Corvil.
However, visible minorities represent approximately 33% of Montrealers, according to city data.
“We must change the way we do things, and it is a call for all parties,” said Mr. Rotrand on Tuesday, shortly before the vote on this motion. He also stressed the importance for parties to present candidates in “winnable districts” next year.
The end of “post candidates”
In interview at Metro last week, the president of Projet Montréal, Guedwig Bernier, admitted that members of visible minorities felt like “pole candidates” during the last municipal elections. The ruling party then fielded 23.3% of visible minority candidates, but most of them did not win their bet.
“There are members of visible minorities who have the impression of being nominated as candidates at the last minute for image reasons,” said Mr. Rotrand, adding that “Projet Montréal has a lot of work to do. On this plan.
“The time is no longer for promises, it is for results”, for his part raised the advisor of Ensemble Montreal, Francesco Miele.
Make room for diversity
Cathy Wong, who is responsible for the fight against racism and discrimination within the executive committee, also welcomed this motion, noting in passing that the low presence of visible minorities on city council testifies to “the magnitude of the task. “.
However, she then raised what she described as a “paradox” in the fact that Mr. Rotrand, who has been a municipal councilor for 38 years, is behind this motion. To leave more room for diversity in the next municipal elections, long-time elected officials must be ready to “give up their place”, she said.
“How can we leave room for candidates of diversity when elected officials cling to their positions mandate after mandate?” she asked, repeatedly referring to Snowdon’s advisor.
“How do we deal with diversity in our board when elected officials represent themselves decade after decade?” -Cathy Wong, Project Montreal advisor
Words strongly denounced
Ms. Wong’s remarks caught the official opposition by surprise, and they reacted strongly.
“If there is one person who has demonstrated progressiveness over the years, who has promoted diversity, year after year, it is Marvin Rotrand […]. It’s ageism that you do, ”Miele retorted.
“We must recognize the wisdom of the candidate of Snowdon rather than shooting red balls at him,” also said the mayor of Saint-Laurent, Alan DeSousa.
The mayor of Côte-des-Neiges – Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Sue Montgomery, for her part, supported Ms. Wong’s comments. According to her, if Mr. Rotrand is represented in the next municipal election, no candidate of diversity will have a chance to win the district of Snowdon, a multicultural neighborhood.
Mr. Rotrand, for his part, associates Ms. Wong’s words with a political strategy.
“His speech tried to hijack spotlight from Projet Montréal. She tried to deflect the debate from the motion by turning it towards me, ”he told Metro at the end of the afternoon. He did not say Tuesday whether he intends to run for an 11th term next year.
The next municipal elections will take place on November 7, 2021.