Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Quebec’s human rights commission is calling on the provincial government to come up with a plan to fight racism and discrimination in the wake of a new report on abuse against minorities.

Myrlande Pierre, the commission’s vice-president, said human rights groups and other civil society organizations have been asking for an anti-racism policy for the past two decades but the government has not heeded their requests.

Now, armed with a 328-page report detailing cases of vicious abuse against dozens of people – mostly Muslims and people of colour – commissioners said the province must finally act.

Story continues below advertisement

“What hit us hardest was the sentiment of exclusion,” said Houda Asal, a researcher who worked on the report, which documents interviews with 86 people who say they have been victims of racism.

“People who were born in Quebec, or who have been here 30 years – who have kids who were born here,” Asal said. “And they say they feel like strangers, that they will always be a stranger.”

Out of the 86 people interviewed, 72 per cent identified as either black or Arab, while 51 said they were Muslim.

They spoke of being harassed in the street, spat on, physically assaulted, or of having their property vandalized. On average, each person interviewed was the victim of three hate crimes between 2007 and 2017.

About 35 per cent of them said they changed their habits following their experiences and 78 per cent of the hateful acts they suffered were not reported to authorities.

“In a bar … I was at a party with colleagues and with other friends who were dancing,” reads testimony from one Arab man about an event in Quebec City. “A man pushed and hit me and said: ‘Go back home. You come here, you steal our jobs and our women.“’

A woman from Montreal who wears a hijab testified to the commission that she was told: “Halloween was two weeks ago! Go to Afghanistan!” Another woman who wears a hijab said someone purposefully hit her with their car.

Story continues below advertisement

The two-year study was commissioned by the previous Liberal government as part of its “anti-radicalization” initiatives.

Former premier Philippe Couillard also mandated the human rights commission to hold public consultations on systemic racism in Quebec.

But following criticism from his political opponents and from pundits, Couillard backtracked, and Premier Francois Legault with the Coalition Avenir Quebec has repeatedly stated he doesn’t think systemic racism exists in the province.

When asked whether that was true, Pierre was unequivocal.

“Systemic or structural racism exists. Quebec is not exempt from this phenomenon,” she said. “And why do we talk about systemic racism or discrimination? It’s because we want systemic responses to this phenomenon to ensure that government actions are perpetuated through time … We need a long-term vision.”

Asal said many of the respondents spoke about legislation, government policies and political debates they thought were connected to the abuse they suffered.

Story continues below advertisement

In particular, respondents mentioned the debate in Quebec over reasonable accommodation of religious minorities and around the Parti Quebecois government’s so-called charter of values in 2013.

“The charter came up a lot,” said Asal, referring to the PQ’s legislation that died when the party was defeated in the 2014 election. The current government passed its own version of the PQ’s charter last June. Bill 21 bans some public sector workers such as teachers from wearing religious symbols at work.

Interviewees “said there was a before and after (the charter),” Asal continued. “That it liberated a type of speech. They mentioned certain politicians at the time … and certain media that stigmatized certain people – notably immigrants, racialized people and women who wear the headscarf.”

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies