Even more diversity in the National Assembly


With around 20% of elected officials from diversity, the National Assembly will sport more colors than in 2018, confirm the experts. While the Coalition avenir Québec seems to have taken a strategic turn to elect more Aboriginal and visible minority candidates, new elected officials say they aspire to a better climate than that caused by certain statements about immigrants during the campaign.

“Remarks like this, which divide Quebec so much, when you have a path like mine of integration and success, it is extremely hurtful,” declared the To have to the new solidarity deputy for Verdun, Alejandra Zaga Mendez.

Having immigrated from Peru with her mother 20 years ago, the 34-year-old young woman, holder of a doctorate in sustainable development and long-time activist of Quebec solidaire, says she feels perfectly Quebecois. “It makes me want to go to the National Assembly even more […] to fight for more justice and inclusion, » added Ms.me Zaga Mendez, who made history for a whole host of reasons sometime Monday night.

Elected for the Liberal Party in Bourassa-Sauvé, Madwa-Nika Cadet has been firmly rooted in Quebec since her grandparents came from Haiti to settle there 40 years ago.

During the campaign, the erroneous declarations of the former Minister of Immigration, Jean Boulet, to the effect that 80% of immigrants would not work and would not speak French were received “like a slap in the face”. “When people heard that and the connections made [entre l’immigration] and violence, they said to themselves: “We work, we are graduates and we made a certain sacrifice by arriving here for our children and to speak French, and that is the message we are getting.” It sure is hurtful. »

But the one who holds a master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University rightly says she is driven by social mobility and equal opportunity. “When people settle in Quebec, they have dreams for their children and their grandchildren, she insisted. No matter where we come from, no matter our economic status, we must be able to create opportunities. »

20% diversity

In his victory speech, François Legault nevertheless reached out to cultural communities and was delighted to have in his party the first elected Innu woman in the history of Quebec.

If from legislature to legislature, the government always improves in terms of representativeness, the CAQ would also have improved significantly in this regard, noted Frédéric Castel, expert in ethnic and religious questions. “The CAQ has started to change. Since the 2018 election, she has understood […] that it was necessary to present candidates from diversity in eligible constituencies,” he observes. And in the region.

According to him, as soon as people like Lionel Carmant and Nadine Girault — who have been ministers — or even people of various origins, like Alice Abou-Khalil, new CAQ deputy in Fabre, or Kateri Jourdain Champagne, an Innu from North Shore, get elected outside Montreal, a « real connection » can be made with Quebec as a whole. “She was able to elect a respectable number [de personnes représentant la diversité]. If the CAQ had not had applications from minorities outside of Montreal, it could have been zero, ”says Mr. Castel, who teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM).

Looking at the composition of the entire National Assembly, 27 elected officials out of 125 – or 22% – are people from diversity in the broad sense, that is to say they are not of French or British origin. , according to what M. Castel has compiled. Of this number, nine come from European immigration (like the liberal Enrico Ciccone) or Jewish (like the CAQ MP for Repentigny, Pascale Déry).

The other 18 are considered visible minorities or aboriginals, the best known representative of which is the leader of the Liberal Party, Dominique Anglade. Mr. Castel hesitated to include in this category certain new deputies of Armenian origin, such as the liberal Sona Lakhoyan Olivier and the caquiste Céline Haytayan, since it is up to everyone to consider themselves a “visible minority” or not.

« A job to do »

The new solidarity deputy Haroun Bouazzi, he did not need to claim any identity. As soon as he woke up the day after his election, Internet users already accused him on Twitter of having “defended sharia law” and of being part of the “Islamist lobby” of Quebec solidaire. The co-founder of the Association of Muslims and Arabs for Secularism (AMAL Quebec) said he did not want to be distracted. » I have a job member to do and the stakes are too high, » he said in an interview.

« I’m taking on this role that I was given, and if people can be inspired by my journey, so much the better, » he added.

Being a model for generations to follow is what some elected representatives of diversity have said they want to embody so that others end up taking an interest in politics like them.

Alejandra Zaga Mendez had never considered the question until a 13-year-old Latino girl approached her on the street. « She was holding my flyer and told me: « When I grow up, I’m going to be like you. I want to be Prime Minister, ”says the united MP, still moved. « I said, ‘I’m going to work for you.’ »

Trudeau wants « more immigration to Quebec »

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