With the appointment of Bochra Manaï to the coveted post of commissioner for the fight against racism in Montreal, Mayor Valérie Plante is taking a risky political bet. Especially in the face of the Legault government and its law 21 on secularism.
Ms. Manaï is a university researcher in inter-ethnic relations. She was also the spokesperson for the National Council of Canadian Muslims which, in court, challenges Bill 21. In her new role, some of her statements could indeed cause her shame.
This one, for example. On April 15, 2019, Mme Manaï published on her Twitter thread an excerpt from one of her speeches in which she said that Law 21 is “anti-democratic”.
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The most disturbing passage, however, is this:
“The problem is the attacks coming from far-right groups […]. Should we remember that, unfortunately, Quebec has become a benchmark for supremacists and extremists around the world? “
Public and strategic post
As an activist and private citizen, Bochra Manaï was free to support Law 21 or not. In a democracy, everyone has the right to denounce or challenge a law that they consider unjust, rightly or wrongly.
Mme Manaï now holds a public and very strategic position. His opposition to Bill 21 does not disqualify him, however.
At least, insofar as, in its public role, it does not call for civil disobedience.
Mayor Plante herself opposes Bill 21, but is committed to respecting it.
The real problem is M’s unfounded and crass statementme Manaï presenting Quebec as a benchmark for supremacists and extremists around the world.
In her new position, it will be necessary to know if she still thinks it or not.
In Quebec, as in English Canada and in the West, ultra-right, supremacist, racist, misogynist and anti-Semitic groups are certainly on the rise.
A well-documented trend that we must actively counter. But to say that Quebec is a world benchmark is unacceptable. A focus of Mme Manai is more than necessary.
Otherwise, his credibility will take a toll on his cold and, in turn, his ability to carry out his tasks with rigor and accuracy.
On the merits of the matter, except for the current controversy, that Mayor Plante makes appointments that better reflect Montreal’s diversity is an excellent thing.
Those who experience discrimination, present here as elsewhere, including the persistent plague of racial profiling, must have access to positions where they can directly contribute to its desired eradication.
Quebec is a very welcoming society, but its institutions are not exempt from certain discriminatory practices.
Whether or not we embrace the concept of “systemic” racism, this is what we need to work on together.
Collective self-flagellation or the chronic insult of a “racist” that has been afflicting Quebec for too long will not help us to get there.
Bochra Manaï, who now swears to want to “unite”, would be wise to take note.
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