Mandate Letter Tracker: Delivering results for Canadians [diversity of appointments and lack of detail]

There has been justified critical commentary regarding the government’s mandate letter tracker. I was curious to see how the commitment to increased diversity in appointments was covered.

Surprisingly, the 2016-17 PCO Departmental Performance Report does not provide any data table to substantiate that claim, merely noting:

  • Almost 12,000 applications processed and 429 Governor in Council appointments made in 2016-17”

Strikingly, the focus appears only to be with respect to women, not the other employment equity groups (visible minorities, Indigenous peoples, and persons with disabilities). PCO should be providing such data (as Justice does for judicial appointments).

That being said, given HoM and judicial appointments to date, I think this one can be said to be on track.

via Mandate Letter Tracker: Delivering results for Canadians –


Why We Need to Talk About Migration and Human Security: Khalid Koser — Refugees Deeply

Had a recent opportunity to hear Koser speak and this interview is worth reading:

WHEN MOST POLITICAL leaders talk about migration and security, they usually refer to threats rather than opportunities.

Khalid Koser, the executive director of the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF), a Geneva-based public-private fund supporting local prevention of radicalization around the world, believes that’s back-to-front. Migration is not only beneficial to societies and economies, Koser says, but can also help prevent violent extremism.

“If there is a link between violent extremism and migration, it is that violent extremism is driving people from their homes, not that people are coming to our shores to commit violent extremism,” he said. “It’s so obvious that it shouldn’t need to be said, but it does need to be said.”

Koser, who cochairs the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Migration and is editor of the Journal of Refugee Studies, spoke to Refugees Deeply about the need for a new approach to policymaking on migration and security.

Refugees Deeply: To start with, some definitions: Often in discussions about migration and security, migration seems to become a code word for “Muslim migrants” and security a code word for “terrorism.” How would you define the key questions for policymakers on migration and security?

Khalid Koser: One of the key challenges is to overcome some of these generalizations and be a little bit more specific. There’s around 232 million international migrants in the world. Most people move perfectly safely to work and benefit the economies and societies where they have arrived. Getting some perspective and definitions are important. The population where we should be slightly concerned is irregular migrants – people who either enter countries without authorization or stay on without authorization, such as overstaying a visa.

On security, all of the attention in the past couple of years has been on national security, terrorism, extremism and crime. There is an alternative concept, human security, which is about people’s lives and people’s livelihoods. If you apply that then it’s quite clear that the real security concern is that a large number of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees are facing human security challenges, whether because they’re fleeing persecution, dying in transit or facing discrimination in their new country. The real security debate is about human security, but that has been overwhelmed by a national security lens.

Refugees Deeply: What evidence is there on the national security dimensions of irregular migration?

Koser: There is limited evidence because almost by definition irregular migrants are hard to track down. But there is no evidence that irregular migrants are any more inclined toward criminality or terrorism than nationals. Having said that, we need to understand that irregular migration is a challenge. It’s a challenge to sovereignty: A state needs to know who’s entering its country and who’s doing what inside the country. There’s no doubt that there are certain groups of irregular migrants in certain cities that are committing crimes, whether it’s pickpocketing or fraud or petty crime. But overall the data suggests that criminality, and absolutely extremism and terrorism, are a homegrown issue more than an imported issue.

This debate’s become polarized. Some people, especially advocates, just won’t even discuss the link between migration and security because they think it’s too risky – we’re already demonizing migrants and to even suggest they’re on a path to criminality is unfair. Others are pretty hard core and risk thinking that all migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are somehow criminally minded. Of course, the truth is somewhere in between.

We do need to confront the fact that there are small groups who are criminalized who may, in some cases, become violent extremists – and understand why. Is it to do with their nature, their migrant experience or the conditions that they find themselves in once they arrive? We’ve avoided doing that research because of nervousness that to even have that discussion is dangerous. I understand why, but I think we need to because if we don’t, then people who are less objective will.

Refugees Deeply: How does integration intersect with security, both national security and human security?

Koser: Again I see lots of misperceptions. The big mistake is to suggest that because an important but small number of people have become foreign terrorist fighters, that immigration has failed in Europe. Integration in Europe has been immensely successful. Millions upon millions of people have come to Europe and flourished and helped our economies greatly.

If there is a weakness in the way we’ve approached integration, it’s seeing it as a one-way process – that it’s up to the state, and to an extent citizens, to integrate migrants. We need to recognize that this is a two-way street. The state and citizens have responsibilities, but so do migrants. For too long we haven’t had that slightly difficult discussion. But we shouldn’t be nervous about holding people accountable.

via Why We Need to Talk About Migration and Human Security — Refugees Deeply

Massive fascist rally in Poland shows how the far right has perverted the word ‘patriotism’: Paradkar

Good commentary:

So much for “Never again.” So much for “Lest we forget.”

We have forgotten, and it is happening again. Amid rising intolerance around the world, ill winds are blowing across the West, revealing the ugly faces of white supremacists as they march in Europe, organize in the U.S. and peck at the social fabric in Canada.

They pontificate in the guise of defending free speech when they want to stifle dissent. They moralize on marriage, women’s rights and sexuality when they are threatened by change. They get wistful about a past when they didn’t have to face the consequences of their abusiveness. They mask their fear of others by claiming superiority to them. Then they take all this narrow-mindedness and deposit it into one hideous package, and call it patriotism.

Some 60,000 people, mostly men, took ] to mark its Independence Day, waving banners reading: “Clean Blood,” “White Poland,” “Pure Poland,” “Refugees get out!” A banner over a bridge read: “Pray for Islamic Holocaust.”

In Poland, mind you, that victim of racism and fascism in the Second World War, that most white, most Catholic of European countries with a 0.1 per cent Muslim population.

The country’s state broadcaster, conservative government mouthpiece TVP, called the demonstration a “great march of patriots.”

According to the Never Again association, the number of homophobic, racist or xenophobic incidents in Poland went from 20 a month to 20 a week in 2016.

History shows Europe certainly needs no help from the U.S. when it comes to fostering divisions to maintain white hegemony. Far-right parties have been rapidly gaining steam across the continent. Many European nations are victims of Russian propagandists spreading misinformation.

One year of ideological support from the world’s biggest military power hasn’t hurt, either.

In July when U.S. President Donald Trump was visiting Warsaw, he quoted the words of an old Polish religious song, “We want God,” and invoked the clash of civilizations rhetoric. “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.”

“We want God” was the slogan for the Independence Day event this past weekend.

“We know that Donald Trump is not the most religious man, and I think that most of the organizers are not very religious, either,” sociologist Rafal Pankowski, and head of Never Again, told NBC. “But they use Christianity as a kind of identity marker, which is mostly about being anti-Islam now.”

Saturday’s demonstration was one of the largest of its kind in Europe, and included other far-right leaders, including Tommy Robinson from Britain and Roberto Fiore from Italy. American white supremacist Richard Spencer was invited, but he was too racist even for Poland’s government and he was kept out of the country.

There are those who will argue that even this putrid Polish crowd was not all bad. TVP said these were not extremists, but regular Poles expressing their love of Poland. These would be the ordinary people who hide behind those who own up to hatred. These are the ordinary folks, about as nice as the pus that flows out of a festering wound, who remain silent in the face of racist incursions on rights of their fellow citizens in the name of patriotism.

Patriotism came in handy for Trump who invoked its symbolism — but not its substance — while criticizing NFL players who knelt in protest during the national anthem. It’s bewildering how a respectful protest against anti-Black racism insults the flag, the country or the military, but that’s the consequence of redefining patriotism as a love of white America.

In the Second World War and after, patriotism was about the spirit of inclusion. Now, the far right has perverted it to make it about exclusion and white supremacy.

Canada is seeing its share of such patriotism. While attempts by a white supremacists to hold a rally in Peterborough and in Kew Gardens Park in the Beaches recently were shut down by anti-fascists, that’s no reason to be complacent: it took just seven years for Poland to go from sparsely attended far-right rallies to Saturday’s full-blown demonstration.

In Toronto, white supremacists caught trying to paste “It’s okay to be white” posters shouted sexist, homophobic slurs at the Torontoist photographer taking pictures. The message of the posters originate from a strategy called “Hiding your power level” or publicly disavowing Nazis and painting any opposition to this message as anti-white racism, the news site reported.

Anti-immigrant groups such as Quebec’s La Meute position themselves as patriotic. White supremacists groups such as the Heritage Front stake their patriotism as keepers of our traditions. And the name of German PEGIDA, which has a Canadian chapter, says it all: Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West.

The reality is these groups don’t represent patriotism, which, according to Merriam-Webster, has connotations of valour, bravery, duty and devotion. What they stand for is nationalism, and a return to unchallenged white supremacy.

Over our dead bodies.

via Massive fascist rally in Poland shows how the far right has perverted the word ‘patriotism’: Paradkar | Toronto Star

Unable to find work, many Syrian refugees reluctantly turn to social assistance – Nova Scotia

Not unexpected. Takes many refugees longer to establish themselves:

For their first year after landing in Canada, refugees are supported by either the federal government or private groups. But that support has ended for most Syrian refugees, and many of those unable to find jobs have turned to provincial social assistance.

Just shy of 1,500 Syrian refugees landed in Nova Scotia between November 2015 and July this year. Of those, more than half — 894 adults and children — were on income assistance as of late September, according to the province’s Department of Community Services.

Syrian refugees represent about two per cent of the total number of Nova Scotians receiving such benefits. Income assistance in Nova Scotia includes $620 a month for shelter for a family of three or more, and an additional $275 per adult and $133 per child each month for personal expenses. Families may also qualify for the Canada child benefit program.

The problem for many refugees who haven’t found work is a lack of English-language skills. Another is having Syrian work or educational credentials that aren’t recognized in Canada.

via Unable to find work, many Syrian refugees reluctantly turn to social assistance – Nova Scotia – CBC News

Donald Trump Has Nominated 480 People So Far in His Presidency. 80% of Them Are Men.

Says it all:

And if there is one trend that has defined this current president’s staffing decisions, it has been his proclivity to turn to men when filling out key posts.

Since he assumed office, Donald Trump has sent 480 nominations to the U.S. Senate for positions in the judicial branch and executive branches. Of those, The Daily Beast found, 387 were men—constituting just over 80 of all of Trump’s nominees.

The trend goes across government, though it is truly accentuated in certain fields. For example, Trump has nominated 282 men for high-ranking cabinet positions compared to 77 women. He has nominated 55 men for tax, armed forces, veterans claims, district, appellate, and supreme court judgeships compared to 13 women. And he has nominated 50 men to U.S. attorney posts compared to just three women.

Numerous executive branch departments have not had a single woman nominated to their ranks. Though some of them have only a handle of confirmable positions, others like the  Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy have had seven nominees respectively to date. All of those nominees were men.

via Donald Trump Has Nominated 480 People So Far in His Presidency. 80% of Them Are Men.

Hate Crimes Up In 2016, FBI Statistics Show : NPR

Relatively low numbers compared to the population, reflecting major data collection gaps:

The Anti-Defamation League, for example, noted that nearly 90 cities with populations of more than 100,000 either reported zero hate crimes or did not report data for 2016.

“There’s a dangerous disconnect between the rising problem of hate crimes and the lack of credible data being reported,” said ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt. He called for an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to get better nation-wide figures on the problem.

Sim Singh, the national advocacy manager of the Sikh Coalition, agreed. He noted that the FBI statistics count seven anti-Sikh hate crimes in 2016, which he said “represents the tip of the iceberg.”

“If law-enforcement agencies fail to document the true extent of hate crimes against our communities,” Singh said, “our nation will have a hard time mobilizing the political will and resources necessary to prevent and combat the problem.”

The only way to fix the data problem, he added, is for law enforcement to adopt mandatory hate crime reporting.

Still, the FBI data provides an overview of hate crimes across the country.

There were 7,509 victims of single-bias hate crime incidents, according to the reported numbers for 2016. A victim can be a person, a business, a government entity or a religious organization.

Nearly 59 percent of the victims were targeted because of their race. A further 21.1 percent were targeted because of religion, and 16.7 percent because of sexual-orientation.

Of the race-related incidents, more than half were anti-black, while some 20 percent were anti-white. More than half of the religious-related crimes, the statistics show, were anti-Jewish, while a quarter were anti-Muslim.

In cases where law enforcement was able to identify the perpetrator, 46.3 percent were white and 26.1 percent were black.

via Hate Crimes Up In 2016, FBI Statistics Show : NPR

B’nai Brith Canada condemns rash of pro-Nazi postering in B.C.

Another disturbing incident:

B’nai Brith Canada has condemned the actions of whoever put up anti-Semitic posters and chalkboard drawings at the University of British Columbia over the Remembrance Day weekend in Vancouver.

On Nov. 11, the student newspaper called the Ubyssey reported that the entrances to the War Memorial Gym were plastered with posters glorifying Nazi Germany.

One poster touts Nazi soldiers as the “true heroes of WW2” and offers links to hateful websites. Another bore a swastika and described Nazism as “anti-degenerate.”

The posters were found Saturday, the same day the school hosted Remembrance Day ceremonies.

Philip Steenkamp, vice-president of external relations for the University of B.C. — said campus security took down the posters as soon as they were made aware of them, and that the university takes incidents of hate and racism very seriously.

Two days earlier, on the anniversary of Kristallnacht or the “night of broken glass” on Nov. 9, 1938 in Germany — the night violence broke out against Jews which resulted in thousands of businesses and synagogues trashed and looted — a chalk drawing was found in the UBC forestry building with a “Heil Hitler” message.

RCMP investigated both incidents, but could not find any suspects, said UBC RCMP Const. Kevin Ray.

“Once again, we see anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism raising their ugly heads at a B.C. university,” said Michael Mostyn, chief executive officer of B’nai Brith Canada.

A neo-Nazi poster put up at the University of British Columbia just before Remembrance Day. (The Ubyssey)

“These disturbing incidents constitute a threat to Jewish students and other minorities on campus, as well as an unforgivable insult to Canadian veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice to defeat Nazi tyranny.”

Earlier in November, posters targeting Jews were found at the University of Victoria.

Publicity around the removal of those posters was followed by a “tidal wave” of hateful comments on social media, according to anti-racism activists, who fear the far-right rallies seen this summer in Charlottesville, Va. — which saw similar posters plastered around many U.S. universities — may be emboldening racists in Canada.

via B’nai Brith Canada condemns rash of pro-Nazi postering in B.C. – British Columbia – CBC News

Sexual Assault Charges Against Islamic Scholar Divide Europe’s Muslim Communities

Reaction to the accusations against Tariq Ramadan:

Sexual assault charges targeting a prominent Islamic scholar have left many European Muslims stunned, and triggered sharply disparate reactions within the multi-faceted community, even as many fear a broader backlash.

Swiss-born theologian Tariq Ramadan took a leave of absence from teaching at Oxford University last week, following complaints of rape and assault filed by two French women and reports of similar charges in Switzerland. A statement by the university said the decision was mutual. Ramadan denies the accusations.

While some analysts say Ramadan’s star has been waning in recent years, the impact of the accusations has been immense. Especially in French-speaking countries, 55-year-old Ramadan inspired a generation of young Muslims to believe Islam and citizenship were compatible in a distinctly secular Europe. Unlike many religious clerics here, he spoke in French rather than Arabic during meetings and symposiums that were usually packed.

“I think this affair is going to lead to big changes,” said Alexandre Piettre, a specialist in Islam at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, in Paris. “He had a discourse of integration, and without it, it leaves space for political radicalism that was contained by it; those who reject public participation in the West and call for a return to Muslim countries — the Hijra — or even armed jihad.”

Double discourse?

The grandson of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan el-Banna, Ramadan has long been a polarizing figure. Critics claim he wielded a “double discourse,” hiding political Islam behind unifying rhetoric. He was temporarily banned from the U.S. under the Bush administration, a measure lifted under the Obama one.

Much of the debate surrounding him has taken place in France, where an estimated five million Muslims make up Western Europe’s biggest Islamic community.

In April, French authorities expelled Ramadan’s older brother, controversial Swiss preacher Hani Ramadan, on grounds he was a threat to public order.

The preacher also sparked outrage in 2002, by publishing an article in France’s Le Monde newspaper that supported stoning adulterers — a position condemned by his brother Tariq.

“Tariq Ramadan: double discourse or double personality?” France’s conservative Le Figaro newspaper asked last week, wondering if the “charming predator” was a sexual one as well.

Multiple accusations

The assault charges come amid a broader global outcry against sexual harassment, triggered by the Harvey Weinstein scandal that began in the United States. As the charges mounted last month, French activist and former Salafist Henda Ayari filed a police complaint accusing Ramadan of brutally raping her in a hotel room in 2012. Since then, another French woman has come forward with a similar story, according to media reports. French prosecutors are probing the accusations.

In neighboring Switzerland, a Geneva newspaper reported four young women said they had sexual relations with Ramadan as minors when he was teaching at their school — at least three of the incidents were said to be non-consensual. Media reported another rape claim in Belgium.

Meanwhile, Oxford University graduate Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi posted a blog that gave voice to an American Muslim friend, who recounted an unwanted sexual advance by Ramadan in 2013. The account echoed a pattern described by the two French women: an initial interaction with Ramadan on social media to discuss religious matters, then an eventual meeting in a hotel room because Ramadan said he did not wish to be seen in public.

“For me it’s not about his political views,” said al-Tamimi, who works for a think tank opposed to Ramadan, but says he is not part of that debate.

via Sexual Assault Charges Against Islamic Scholar Divide Europe’s Muslim Communities

A Toxic Mix: Sex, Religion and Hypocrisy – The New York Times

Sylvie Kauffman of the Times on Tariq Ramadan in particular, and the Muslim world in general:

If you thought it was challenging for women to come forward and accuse Harvey Weinstein of rape, consider accusing the Islamic theologist Tariq Ramadan. Emboldened by the enormous response in France to the #MeToo wave that was born in Hollywood, two Frenchwomen decided last month to sue Mr. Ramadan for rape and sexual abuse. One of the women, Henda Ayari, has gone public. The second has described her ordeal to journalists but has remained anonymous. And for good reason: Henda Ayari has had to appeal for help after becoming the target of a vicious campaign of insults and slander on social networks, mostly from Muslim extremists. Mr. Ramadan, a grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, denies the accusations.

It is not only that the Swiss-born Mr. Ramadan, 55, who has taken a leave of absence from Oxford University, where he has taught contemporary Islamic studies (a chair financed by Qatar), is a prominent figure on the intellectual and religious Islamic scene in France. What makes his accusers particularly brave is that they, like him, are practicing Muslims. By the very fact of having spent time alone with him, they have, in the eyes of rigorist teachings of Islam, violated the rules of modesty that women are required to follow.

The sexual revolution that liberated Western women in the 20th century has yet to occur in most of the Muslim world. But we may be seeing a beginning, six years after the crushed hopes of the Arab revolutions. In North Africa, at least, and in the Arabic communities within France, the seeds of women’s rebellion are bearing fruit slowly. Tunisia, the one Arab country that did not turn its back on the Arab Spring, is breaking barriers.

“In Arabic, revolution means whirlwind,” the Tunisian film director Kaouther Ben Hania, a woman, recently told the French public radio channel France-Inter. “So it turns everything upside down, it changes everything, and overnight we find ourselves talking about everything, while under the dictatorship we did not talk. I would never have been able to do this movie before the revolution.”

Just released in France and in her country, Ms. Ben Hania’s movie “The Beauty and the Dogs” is a harrowing tale of a 20-year-old student raped by two policemen in Tunis after being caught walking on a beach with a boyfriend at night. The film concentrates on the night that follows, during which Mariam, the student, tries stubbornly to file a complaint, which would require getting a doctor to examine her and policemen to take her testimony. Gradually, as hours pass and she encounters more obstacles, her violated dignity leads to a political awakening. Threatened with arrest at dawn, she does not give in. In the end, Ms. Ben Hania explains, “it is the policemen who are afraid of her. Fear has changed sides.”

Ms. Ben Hania, 40, is one of several Arab women now raising their voices in North Africa and in France. The New Year’s Eve attacks by mostly Arab migrants on German women in Cologne in 2016 shed light on what the Algerian author and columnist Kamel Daoud described as “the sexual misery of the Arab world.” His scathing text, published in Le Monde and The New York Times, shocked a group of French academics, who accused him of indulging in “Orientalist clichés.” But when the video of a young woman sexually assaulted by a group of teenagers on a bus in Casablanca, Morocco, went viral this summer, those academics kept silent.

Neither did they utter a word when the Moroccan actress Loubna Abidar had to take refuge in France last year after receiving death threats for her role in “Much Loved,” a Franco-Moroccan film about prostitutes that was banned in Morocco.

As more women emerge, in France, Switzerland and Belgium, with allegations of sexual misconduct against Mr. Ramadan, a picture emerges of the domination exercised over women by a powerful Islamic theologian who had also impressed some left-wing French intellectuals and television hosts. It is a picture of a double life that those who had scrutinized him had long suspected. The French feminist writer Caroline Fourest, his archenemy, says she had been approached by some of his victims but was not able to persuade them to file complaints.

Bernard Godard, a former official of the Ministry of Interior, where he was for many years the main expert on Islam before retiring three years ago, even told the French magazine L’Obs last week that he had heard that Tariq Ramadan had “mistresses, that he consulted sites, that girls were brought to the hotel at the end of his lectures, that he invited some to undress, that some resisted and that he could become violent and aggressive.” But he admitted to being “stunned” by the latest allegations, of rapes. “I have never heard of rapes,” he said.

Double life is a familiar theme, as is sexual misery, in a very revealing book just published in France, “Sexe et Mensonges: La Vie Sexuelle au Maroc” (“Sex and Lies: Sex Life in Morocco”), by the Franco-Moroccan novelist Leïla Slimani. A celebrated author in France, Ms. Slimani, 36, took advantage of a book tour in Morocco to interview all sorts of women about sex, men, family, women, religion and dress codes.

The world they describe is a world of hypocrisy, where appearance and reality clash constantly, where sex is a source of shame but on everybody’s mind, where the cult of virginity — demanded only of women — leads veiled girls to favor sodomy and oral sex to keep their hymen intact or to pay for hymen reparation before getting married. They tell Ms. Slimani of a schizophrenic society, torn between submission and transgression, where the law prohibits sex outside marriage but where everybody does it — in hiding. They feel sorry for mothers who had to give up a school they loved to marry a man they did not choose. They are sick of the chaos that mass consumption of pornography on the internet adds to teenagers’ confused view of sexuality.

Women are on the front line of this indispensable revolution, because they are the first victims of Islamic obscurantists. Ironically, this world of religious dogmas about sexuality was once a very different world. Ten centuries ago, Arabic erotica written by religious dignitaries and sophisticated dictionaries of sex shocked the West. Six decades ago, women wore miniskirts in Kabul and in Tunis.

Today, they just want to decide freely who they are, what they wear, whom they love and when. Make no mistake. In the environment they live in, that is a highly political demand.

via A Toxic Mix: Sex, Religion and Hypocrisy – The New York Times

Des minorités visibles invisibles [municipal elections]

Common to many municipalities in Quebec and elsewhere. Provincial and federal representation generally stronger:

Avec aussi peu d’élus se disant issus de minorités visibles et ethniques, la diversité ne se reflète pas à Montréal, encore moins au Québec. Pourquoi la métropole, si cosmopolite, peine-t-elle encore à attirer des immigrés ? Le Devoir a rencontré trois élus montréalais qui en ont long à dire sur le sujet.

On les appelle les minorités visibles, mais elles sont pourtant presque invisibles dans le lot d’élus au Québec. Le ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Occupation du territoire ne tient même pas de données statistiques là-dessus, selon ce qu’a appris Le Devoir. À Montréal, sur 103 élus, il y en a désormais 21 qui représentent cette diversité — minorités visibles (6), minorités ethniques (14) et handicapés (1) —, soit 5 de plus qu’aux dernières élections.

On ne fracasse aucun record ici, croit Nathalie Pierre-Antoine, une élue montréalaise d’origine haïtienne. Elle croyait pourtant que la métropole, qui compte 34 % de minorités visibles, allait faire mieux. « On est quand même en 2017 », dit celle qui a été élue pour un second mandat dans l’arrondissement de Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles pour l’Équipe Denis Coderre.

Ce n’est pourtant pas parce que les électeurs ne sont pas prêts, croit-elle. « La preuve, je suis élue », a-t-elle lancé en riant, citant les exemples de Cathy Wong, d’Abdelhaq Sari, de Marie-Josée Parent, qui se dit d’origine autochtone.

Oui, c’est possible

Immigré du Maroc à l’âge d’un an, Younes Boukala, élu conseiller d’arrondissement à Lachine pour Projet Montréal, s’est dit la même chose. Pour le Québécois de 22 ans, musulman et d’origine berbère marocaine, la seule façon de changer les choses était de plonger lui-même. « Les gens me disaient : “Tu as juste 22 ans et tu te présentes ?” Et moi, je leur disais : “Mais ça prend quoi pour se présenter ? Plein de diplômes et un certain âge ?” Il faut juste oser. »

Sur le Plateau Mont-Royal, les habitants du district De Lorimier ont également accueilli à bras ouverts Josefina Bianco, élue pour Projet Montréal comme conseillère d’arrondissement. « Ça ne fait même pas deux ans que je suis Canadienne et j’ai été élue », s’est réjouie la jeune mère italo-argentine, qui vit au Québec depuis sept ans.

Lors de son porte-à-porte, les habitants du quartier n’ont pas manqué de souligner son petit accent espagnol chantant et lui posaient des questions sur ses origines et ses motivations. « Mais j’ai toujours eu un accueil magnifique », dit-elle, consciente que les choses n’auraient peut-être pas été aussi simples dans un autre arrondissement. « La réponse était positive, que ce soit des femmes immigrantes, qui étaient très fières, ou des Québécois. 

Discrimination positive ?

Mais alors, pourquoi si peu de diversité ? D’emblée, il n’y a pas lieu de jeter la pierre aux partis, qui ont fait de grands efforts de recrutement, constate Mme Pierre-Antoine. N’empêche : sur 298 candidats qui se présentaient cette année, 43 (14 %) ont dit appartenir à une minorité visible, ce qui est loin des 34 % de minorités visibles recensées dans la métropole. Toutefois, en tenant compte de ceux qui se déclarent « minorité ethnique » (43 personnes également), ils ont été au total 86 candidats issus de la diversité à se présenter aux élections de dimanche dernier. Sur ce plan, avec 23 % de minorités visibles dans son équipe, Projet Montréal a fait un peu mieux qu’Équipe Denis Coderre, qui n’en avait que 19 %.

Faut-il obliger les partis à la discrimination positive ? « Il faudrait peut-être une formule pour qu’on soit mieux représentés dans les candidatures, mais le choix final appartient aux électeurs », soutient Mme Bianco. Elle préfère croire en l’émulation et en une « vraie » mobilisation citoyenne. Mme Pierre-Antoine est du même avis. « Il y a du pour et du contre concernant les quotas, et c’est vrai que c’est quand on oblige que les choses finissent par arriver plus concrètement. Mais personnellement, je crois qu’il est toujours mieux de sensibiliser avant. »

Intéresser les immigrants

Pour avoir plus de candidats et d’élus issus de la diversité, encore faudrait-il qu’ils aient un intérêt se présenter. « Comme nouvel arrivant, avant de s’impliquer dans la vie politique, on est “en mode” subsistance. On cherche à se loger, se nourrir, à travailler ; l’implication politique n’est pas une priorité », rappelle Mme Bianco, qui a une formation en travail social. « Il y a aussi des immigrants qui viennent de pays aux histoires politiques très difficiles. Pour croire à nouveau en la politique, ça peut leur prendre du temps », ajoute-t-elle, évoquant le passé dictatorial peu reluisant de son pays d’origine.

Avec sa monarchie, le Maroc n’a pas non plus une grande tradition démocratique, souligne Younes Boukala. « Là-bas, on ne se pose pas de questions. C’est le roi qui décide », dit-il. Il a parfois senti une désillusion de la politique de certains de ses concitoyens de Lachine. « Des [personnes issues de] minorités ethniques me disaient “tu vas être un vendu toi aussi” », raconte-t-il. Il leur répondait aussitôt : « Je veux juste vous dire une chose, ce serait quoi mon intérêt à aller en politique à 22 ans ? Mes parents ont beaucoup souffert pour que je puisse réussir et je veux donner cette même chance de réussite aux autres », se rappelle-t-il. « Neuf fois sur dix, leur approche changeait. »

Voter sans citoyenneté

Et si on l’enlevait l’exigence de citoyenneté pour encourager les gens à aller voter au municipal ? N’y aurait-il pas plus de nouveaux arrivants et de gens d’origines diverses en politique active ? La chose mérite qu’on se penche dessus, lance Josefina Bianco. « Il faudrait voir de façon précise avec quel statut on autoriserait le vote, mais c’est vrai que pour quelqu’un qui vit ici, qui paye ses taxes dans la ville, qui a des enfants à l’école et contribue à son quartier, pourquoi pas ? Ça enracinerait davantage les gens. » Younes Boukala abonde dans le même sens. Après tout, les statistiques montrent que plus un individu commence à voter à un jeune âge, plus les chances sont grandes qu’il revote et s’intéresse à la politique. « Et on aurait au moins une chance de diminuer le faible taux de participation au municipal. »

via Des minorités visibles invisibles | Le Devoir