The Office de Consultation Publique de Montréal (OCPM) published a report in June 2020 on a consultation regarding systemic racism and discrimination in the City. The consultation took two years and involved more than 7,000 contributions, both in person and online. The goal of the consultation was not to verify alleged facts, but rather to draw a portrait of the current state of affairs, to highlight the solutions proposed and to enlarge perspectives to guide public decision-making.
The Commission conducting the consultation identified systemic racism and discrimination as the interaction between decisions, attitudes and institutional practices that are tinged with bias and that have prejudicial effects, intended or not, on racialised and Indigenous persons.
The Commission was convened on foot of a citizens’ initiative as provided for under the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities. In July 27, 2018, a group of individuals and organisations submitted a petition containing 22,000 signatures requesting a public consultation on systemic racism and discrimination. One month later, the Executive Committee of the City of Montréal adopted a resolution mandating the OCPM) to organise the consultation. The Commission noted that the consultation would not have taken place without this citizens’ initiative.
The Commission’s recommendations address four strands identified as required for strategic change: recognising the problem, measuring the problem, defining goals that lead to concrete actions, and being accountable for these actions. The Commission found that combating racism and discrimination had been neglected in favour of a focus on the integration of immigrants. The internal policies and practices of the City and its role in the production and perpetuation of inequalities had not been subject to any review.
The report has been formally received by the city and the Mayor has publicly recognised systemic racism and discrimination as a problem. Initial actions have been concerned to strengthen an infrastructure to combat systemic discrimination.
The post of Commissioner to Counter Racism and Discrimination has been created as part of the city manager’s team. Once recruited, this officer will focus on the internal operations of the city, and will coordinate implementation of an action plan to address the issues identified, and produce an annual accountability report. The role of Comptroller General in the city is to be reviewed as to how it might be enlarged to more effectively deal with allegations of racism and discrimination.