Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montreal, July 14, 2015 — All four political parties in the Quebec National Assembly must review the abnormal and unjustifiable exclusion of racial, ethnic and religious minorities as well as First Nations organizations from the upcoming public hearings on Bill 59, An Act to enact the Act to prevent and combat hate speech and speech inciting violence and to amend various legislative provisions to better protect individuals.

At a press conference held today in cooperation with seven other organizations, CRARR is calling on the Liberal Government and the Opposition parties – the Parti Québécois, the Coalition Avenir Québec and Québec Solidaire, to take action to extend the scheduled hearings, presently set from August 17 to September 22, 2015, and to include Aboriginal, Black, Jewish and Muslim groups, as well as immigrant and intercultural groups, in the hearings.

The divisive debates on the Charter of Quebec Values have created significant intercultural tensions and resulted in numerous acts of racism, antisemitism and islamophobia. Furthermore, data on hate crime published recently show that half of hate crimes reported in 2013 were motivated by hatred toward a race or ethnicity such as Black, Asian, Arab or Aboriginal populations, and another 28% of incidents were motivated by hatred towards a religious group, including hate crimes targeting Jewish, Muslim, Catholic and other religious populations.

For the legislative hearings on Bill 59, witnesses are invited by political parties represented on the Commission on Institutions of the National Assembly.

There are many witnesses from groups representing LGBT, women, youth, seniors and people with disabilities, as well as the educational, justice, law enforcement and social service sectors, including individuals and groups that were supportive of the Charter of Quebec Values, while those who have also been the primary target of hate speech and incitement to violence such as racial, ethnic and religious minorities, and Aboriginal peoples, are left out on a matter that is of direct concern to their security and freedom.

“The list of witnesses to be heard from the legislative committee is shockingly unrepresentative and exclusionary and does not reflect the fundamental values of equality, inclusion and full participation that Quebec politicians have preached,” said CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi. “Committee Chair Gilles Ouimet and Vice-Chair Jean-François Lisée have some explaining to do.”

“We call on the leaders of all four parties to end this form of political exclusion, and to add more groups to the schedule of hearings,” he added.  “The National Assembly has to set an example in terms of preventing exclusion.

The other groups are: the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, the Black History Month Round-Table, Justice Femme, the Canadian Muslim Forum, Montreal-Nord Republik, the Association des Arabes et Musulmans pour la Laïcité du Québec, the Alliance of South Asian Communities, and the Concordia Student Union. More groups will take a stand after the July holidays.

To learn more about Bill 59 and the parliamentary committee hearings: