'The time for talk is over': community groups back motion for more concrete action to fight anti-Asian racism
MONTREAL -- A coalition of community groups is backing a motion from several city councillors to go beyond denouncing anti-Asian racism in Montreal.
They say the time for talk is over, and the city needs to do more as Montreal police data shows anti-Asian hate crimes rose since the start of the pandemic.
"Covid has brought out the haters. It's challenged every fundamental assumption we have about Canadian values," said Montreal city councillor Marvin Rotrand.
A motion from Rotrand supported by dozens of community groups and several other councillors will be debated by council next week. It calls for the commissioner to meet with community groups without delay, for Montreal and the STM to release tangible measures to address hate crimes, and to officially recognize May as Asian Heritage Month.
The motion focuses solely on anti-Asian racism, but is endorsed by Jewish, Muslim and Black community groups, in a year where all have reported a rise in hate incidents.
It comes one year after another motion was adopted unanimously to denounce anti-Asian racism, after several incidents were reported on public transit and in the streets, including one Korean man being stabbed in NDG last year.
"We have been involved actively in getting the motion through city council to call on the City of Montreal to act and act firmly," said Fo Niemi, executive director for the Montreal-based Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations.
Since then, council has voted to beef up Montreal police’s hate crime unit, and appointed the city's first-ever Commissioner for the Fight Against Racism, but getting a meeting with her appears to be a challenge.
"Commissioner Bochra Manai has been in office for six months. We have not heard from her and we are not aware of any major Asian group that has," said Minda Massone of the Federation of Filipino Canadian Association of Quebec.
Bryant Chang, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Montreal, said he’s heard a lot of talk about taking action, but said he has yet to see any action.
"As of today, we have not seen anything concrete to deal with hate crimes," he said. "We hear a lot of speeches, we hear a lot of Facebook posts, but not much else. The time for talk is over."
A spokesperson for Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said in a statement the city is “more than ever committed to fighting racism and discrimination against Montrealers of Asian origin.”
"We are already well into action to combat this problem on several fronts," the statement read.