Community leaders get behind city council motion pushing for more visible minority candidates
MONTREAL -- Leaders of Montreal's visible minority communities are rallying behind a city council motion calling on municipal parties to commit to running more people of colour.
The motion, which will presented by Snowdon city councillor Marvin Rotrand at the next city council meeting, calls on the parties to commit that a third of their candidates in next year's election will be people of colour.
"One person in three in the City of Montreal is not white," said Ramon Vincent of the Filipino Association of Montreal and Suburbs. "One person in three is of another race, yet our city council does not reflect our population."
"The responsibilities of the parties is to reflect and respond to the needs of the community," said Kemba Mitchell of the West Island Black Community Association. "How can you understand them when you're not a visible minority?"
If it's adopted, the parties wouldn't as easily be able to get away with lip service or with general promises to make it happen.
The motion asks them "to consider amending their bylaws to ensure that one-third of city council candidates be persons of colour and persons of Indigenous origin."
"I don't want to see the practices of of the past where visible minorities are plugged into losing districts at the last moment so the leader can say 'My team is reflective of Montreal,'" said Rotrand.
ONE-THIRD OF MONTREALERS ARE VISIBLE MINORITIES
Two previous motions, in 2013 and 2016, were both passed but both put the goal in more general language, with the parties promising to make a serious effort.
In the two subsequent elections, there wasn't much change, Rotrand said in a news release, saying "visible minorities remain shockingly underrepresented on municipal and borough councils."
The new motion explains where it came up with the one-third number: 35 per cent of people in Montreal are visible minorities, according to Statistics Canada.
Yet only six out of 104 city and borough councillors are people of colour right now, including four out of the 65 members of municipal council.
That adds up to a proportion of just 5.8 per cent, a "disappointing" result after the two previous motions, says the new motion.
It also asks municipal parties to find candidates of colour "winnable seats" and to make sure that the city's elections office works hard to inform people from various cultural communities about how to run for office, whether with a party or as independents.