Robert Libman: Hoping for more diversity in the National Assembly

The legislature needs to be a better reflection of today’s diverse population, in order to be a more effective governing body.


In about two weeks, Prime Minister François Legault will approach the deputy governor and ask him to call provincial elections for October 3, kicking off the official campaign period. Meanwhile, every day he brings new announcements from the different parties naming their candidates. It is impressive to see how many successful people from different sectors are coming forward, some of whom may become the political leaders of tomorrow.

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For political parties, finding quality candidates to present to voters – people who agree to put their lives on hold for a few months and fight with no guarantee of winning – is an exciting but particularly challenging aspect of every campaign. Candidates must not only be found, up to 125 times, but also vetted, an important task especially in this age of social media, where something someone said 10 years ago can come back to bite them and cause a campaign to fail. damage control.

What we have seen so far offers some hope as to where representative politics in Quebec might be headed. In the recent Montreal elections, unprecedented numbers of women and members of cultural communities, including visible minorities, were elected. Provincial politics also seem to be transforming. In the past, political parties peppered their candidate lists with individuals from different demographic groups, but not necessarily in winning races. That is changing.

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This week, Legault’s Avenir Québec Coalition featured two outstanding candidates with strong economic credentials in races likely to win the CAQ; both seem destined to house important economic portfolios in a Legault cabinet. Céline Haytayan, a trilingual economic development expert who was director of international corporate affairs at Ubisoft, is running in Laval-des-Rapides, which the CWC almost took from the Liberals last time. Christine Fréchette, former director of the East Montreal Chamber of Commerce, will run in Sanguinet.

Also, this week, The press reported on the record number of indigenous candidates: nine so far. An indigenous woman has never been elected to the National Assembly. The CAQ confirmed that Kateri Champagne Jourdain, from an Innu community of Uashat Mak Mani-utenam, with a background in communications, public affairs and the business sector, will be its candidate in the Duplessis parade on the north coast, a parade in which she will probably wresting from the Parti Québécois. She can also be destined for cabinet.

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The parties are also fielding candidates from a variety of minority backgrounds, and not just on the island of Montreal.

For a long time, the National Assembly was populated disproportionately by white lawyers, political careerists, and labor activists. Not that there’s anything wrong with those offices, but the legislature needs to be a better reflection of today’s diverse population, to be a more effective governing body. A greater presence of representation and diversity of indigenous and cultural communities in the Assembly opens the government towards a better understanding of the daily realities and challenges in this province: cultural, social, economic. Diverse and open perspectives are often lacking in the island cocoon that Quebec City can be.

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Due to her trilingual and business background, Haytayan was asked during her press conference to justify the CWC language law, Bill 96. She was prepared with the party line on the need to protect French (although Bill of law 96 will do little of the sort). But if the National Assembly were made up of a much more representative cross-section of the Quebecois population in the first place, we might not have gotten to the point where legislators wouldn’t even think of passing legislation, like Bill 96 and the Religious Symbols Bill. 21, which have detrimental effects on minority communities.

Robert Libman is an architect and building planning consultant who has served as leader of the Equality Party and MNA, What metermayor of Côte-St-Luc and as a member of the Montreal executive committee. He was a conservative candidate in the 2015 federal elections.

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