The Montreal Intercultural Council (CiM) is a consultative and discussion body dealing with intercultural relations. It consists of 15 volunteer members, including a chair and two vice-chairs, from various professional backgrounds who reflect Montreal’s cultural diversity. It advises, and issues opinions to, the city council and the executive committee on all issues of interest to the cultural communities and on any other matter relating to intercultural relations. It seeks opinions and receives and hears requests and suggestions from any person or group relating to intercultural relations issues. It also carries out or commissions studies and research that it deems useful or necessary to the performance of its remit. The CiM has issued a recommendation on revising the legislation on voting rights of people with migration backgrounds who are not Canadian citizens (see recommendation 5).
Other advisory bodies also give residents with migration backgrounds opportunities to give their views on issues relating to diversity and inclusion. Examples here are the Montreal Youth Council, the Borough Youth Councils and the Montreal Women’s Council. In addition, the Montreal Public Consultation Office (OCPM) performs this role for all citizens. In 2018, Montreal set up a panel on diversity, inclusion and combating discrimination comprising around 15 experts from academic, political, community, cultural and legal circles. The members are individuals who have stood out in their own fields on account of their commitment, their ideas and their action concerning inclusion, the fight against discrimination, human rights, racial profiling and citizen representation.
The consultative bodies mentioned above (CiM, Montreal Youth Council, Montreal Women’s Council, the Panel on Diversity, Inclusion and Combating Discrimination, etc.) are that many participation tools which Montreal has put in place to foster inclusion, representativeness and active citizenship. Public consultation also takes place before or during the drafting of certain policies, action plans and specific measures.
For example, in connection with the drafting of sector-specific plans (elderly, homeless) and integrated action plans (social development), all organisations representing Montreal’s diversity are invited to various working and consultation meetings.
Montreal Public Consultation Office (OCPM) is the independent body which carries out public consultation assignments entrusted to it by Montreal city council or executive committee. These primarily involve urban and land-use planning projects under municipal jurisdiction but may also include any project submitted by the executive committee or city council.
An online platform called “Réalisons Montréal” is another participatory tool through which the city lets all Montrealers without distinction express their views about issues on which consultation is ongoing.
In addition, Montreal seeks to ensure the presence of individuals from ethnocultural backgrounds in consultative and decision-making bodies to which the city has the power to make appointments. In this connection, it has commissioned the non-profit body, Concertation Montréal (CMTL), to develop and support corresponding innovative and structural regional initiatives. In particular, the aim is to:
· Increase the participation of under-represented groups in the decision-making bodies of organisations in Montreal;
· Help bring about candidatures from those groups and contribute to their success;
· Increase synergies aimed at the economic, social and democratic participation of the various communities and groups in life in Montreal;
· Promote successful models;
· Develop a pool of candidatures to enable the city, upon request, to receive appointment recommendations involving members of diverse communities.
With regard to gender equality, in 2008 Montreal adopted a policy on Promoting the equal involvement of women and men in the Montreal community, backed up by an action plan to make it an equal city.
It should be noted that work is under way on drafting a future policy on public participation and citizen engagement. This collaborative process is based on the desire ultimately to put the expression of participatory democracy on a firmer footing and hence to modernise, promote and support public participation and citizen engagement practices in all strands of city and borough government so that Montreal becomes an open and transparent city where citizens, in all their diversity and without anyone being excluded, have the opportunity and the means to contribute to public decision-making, improvements in their living environment and the development of the city as a whole.