Fondé en 1983 --Unis pour la diversité et l'égalité raciale


Montreal, January 25, 2018 — The most recent hiring of a senior manager at the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission raises concerns about the agency's failure to practice what it preaches to employers in Quebec, namely, to ensure fair representation of racial and ethnic diversity in employment at all levels, especially in management.

CRARR has learned that the Commission has just hired the new manager of its Investigation Division, who is the former Executive Director of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and who like the other ten senior managers out of twelve, is white Québécois (one position is vacant and another, held by a member of an ethnic minority).

Both full-time Vice-Presidents, Camil Picard (presently acting President) and newly appointed Philippe-André Tessier, are also white Québécois. The Commission's President, Tamara Thermitus, who is Black, has been on sick leave since last Fall.

The absence of racialized, Anglophone and Indigenous managers may be the indication of systemic barriers in employment at the Commission. The Commission is in charge of enforcing, among other laws, Law 143, An Act respecting equal access to employment in public bodies and amending the Charter of human rights and freedoms, which requires all Crown corporations, public or para-public agencies with 100 employees or more, such as school boards, health and social service institutions and municipalities, to implement employment equity for women, Aboriginal peoples, ethnic minorities, visible minorities, and people with disabilities.

Last week, CRARR wrote to Acting President Picard to raise concerns about the lack of racialized and Anglophone lawyers in the Investigation and Legal Affairs divisions, highlighting how this under-representation can adversely affect the Commission's handling of complaints of racism, especially when they come from racialized Anglophones. No reply to this letter has been received to date.

“We are very concerned about a human rights commission whose management is all-white and almost all Francophone Québécois. This is 2018, and the Commission’s head office is in Montreal,” said CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi.

“The diversity deficit within the Commission's senior ranks may, on the one hand, compromise the Commission's credibility in its promotion of employment equity for minorities, and, on the other hand, explain its frequent failure to properly handle complaints of systemic racism. It sends a wrong message, ” he concluded.