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Montreal, November 7, 2020 — Several organizations from racialized communities have asked municipal political parties to run more minority candidates for city and borough councils during the next city elections that will be held one year from today.

At a press conference held in front of Montreal City Hall, spokespersons for these organizations showed their support of a Motion introduced last week by City Councillor Marvin Rotrand.

Seconded by Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc Extension Borough Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli, the Motion calls on political parties to step up their efforts to promote the candidacy of racialized Montrealers for the 2021 elections, and to consider amending their internal statutes to make people of colour and Indigenous candidates one third of their election slates.

Similar motions have been adopted in 2013 and 2016. However, despite these efforts, racialized candidates have been to date seriously under-represented in election slates, and city and borough councils lack diversity as a result.

Presently, visible minorities make up less than 10% (or 4) of the 65-member City Council. It is estimated that out of 103 city and borough councilors elected in 2017 and afterwards, only 7 are considered members of visible minorities. According to the 2016 Census, visible minorities made up 31% of the population of the Agglomeration of Montreal.

“Things have to change because the status quo is no longer acceptable. We’ll be in 2021 in two months, and the election will be in one year from today,” Rotrand said. “If we can’t take firm and bold measures to increase diversity on City Council, what credibility is there to combat systemic racism?”, he added.

Sharon Nelson, First Vice-President of Jamaica Association of Montreal, agreed. “In some districts, visible minorities represent almost half of the population, yet no elected councillor comes from these groups. We will have to work hard to get more Black and other racialized candidates elected,” Nelson said.

“Our Filipino community hopes to have one of its own running and getting elected to City Council. We have capable members who will be great representatives, but the community is too often ignored by City authorities,” noted Ramon Vincent, external Vice-President of FAMAS (Filipino Associations of Montreal and the Suburbs).

For CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi, the lack of racial diversity on City Council has serious repercussions for decisions made by the Executive Committee and standing committees.

“Many political parties have taken concrete steps to increase the number of women running and getting elected. We encourage all parties at the city level to do the same for racialized and Indigenous people. They have to avoid window-dressing and run candidates of color in areas where the latter can get elected”, he added.

The Black Coalition of Quebec, the West Island Black Community Association, and the Tamil Association in Cote-des-Neiges also support Councillor’s Rotrand; other groups’ support will be confirmed in the coming week. City Council will vote on the Motion at its November 16 meeting.