Is the Legault government’s position on systemic racism contradictory?

Photo by Ying Ge on Unsplash

Recently, an important debate on systemic racism has surfaced in Quebec. At the federal level, the Prime Minister indicates that we have a systemic discrimination problem in Canada. However, at the provincial level, it seems that François Legault is trying to play both sides by admitting that racism is present in Quebec as in any society while refusing to admit that systemic racism is present in Quebec.

According to the Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission (CDPDJ), systemic racism is a form of discrimination against minorities perpetrated by the institutions established in a society. In summary, “this form of racism has the effect of perpetuating the inequalities experienced by racialized individuals, particularly in terms of education, income, employment, access to housing and public services.” The current Quebec system contributes to this on several points.

First of all, the Legault government passed a law that is discriminatory towards certain racialized and religious minorities. Indeed, bill 21 is a measure that legally allows refusing employment in the public service to people wearing a religious sign, such as a veil, a kippah or a turban. As a result, many people from these minorities have even more difficulty accessing a job or working in a public company because of this measure. This law has demonstrated that institutional racism definitely exists in Quebec.
In addition, systemic racism is not only present in the workplace. Indeed, there is discrimination within the health system as well. There are several cases of native women across Canada who, during a hospital visit, were found forcibly sterilized.
It is also possible to find systemic racism within the Quebec police force. Native Canadians and Arab people are four times more likely to be arrested by the police than white people, and Black people are five times more likely to be arrested by the police compared to white people.

Thus, to say that systemic racism does not exist in Quebec, but that there are simply racist people seems absurd because we have evidence that the health system, the police force and the work environment are institutions that discriminate against minorities. However, the Legault government continues to veil its eyes and refuse to admit that this critical problem exists in our Quebec society.

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