May 12, 2014 9:09 pm

Former PQ chief of staff speaks out on alienating minorities

Watch: Interview with Neko Likongo on the PQ’s relationship with ethnic communities

QUEBEC CITY – A former Parti Quebecois chief of staff said his party needs to shake off old demons if it wants to reconnect with cultural communities.

Neko Likongo, a 42-year-old political staffer who spent his early childhood in Congo, said he believes that the PQ hasn’t changed much since Jacques Parizeau’s infamous “ethnic vote” speech.

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On October 30th 1995, after losing the referendum on whether Quebec would separate, Parizeau said: “It’s true, it’s true we were beaten, yes, but by what? By money and ethnic votes, essentially.”

During his controversial concession speech, Parizeau used the word “nous” (“us”) to refer to French-speaking Quebecers.

“What he said in 1995, about the money and the ethnic vote, still hurts us today,” Likongo told Global News.

“Cultural communities still think we talk about ‘they’ and ‘us.'”

Likongo said the PQ hasn’t changed much.

“When I was in the room with the hundreds of people from the Parti Quebecois, I noticed that everybody in the room was white, French-speaking people, pur laine and I was like, did we miss something here?”

Likongo said by 2031, it is widely expected that one out of five Quebecers will be an immigrant.

He said in his role as chief of staff for the Aboriginal Affairs ministry, he urged his party to reconnect with all of Quebec’s diverse cultural communities, even writing a letter to leader Pauline Marois.

Not only did the PQ not listen, it tabled the controversial charter of values, further alienating minorities.

“We can’t ignore them any more,” Likongo said.

“In four years, when the next election will come, we will have a lot more immigrants, and we can’t continue to try to achieve social goals without these people.”

Likongo is now determined to be part of the solution, taking the bold step of going public with his observations and volunteering to help re-build links with immigrant families.

But given all of the recent mistakes, he said he realizes that a reconciliation will take effort and won’t happen soon.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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