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Green Party leader says she tried to convince Legault to acknowledge systemic racism in Quebec

Legault's cabinet did not offer a comment on the meeting between the two politicians, but said that the provincial government's position on the topic of systemic racism remains unchanged. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The leader of the Green Party of Canada says she took the opportunity of a meeting with Premier François Legault to try to convince him of the existence of systemic racism in Quebec.

Annamie Paul, a Black woman elected head of the Green Party last October, spoke with Legault for the first time last Monday at a meeting focused on the increase in health transfers.

Paul had just participated in the anniversary commemoration of the Quebec mosque shooting. She said she wanted to relay to Legault the grievance of the organizers who demand that Legault recognize the existence of systemic racism in the province.

She said she tried to convince Legault that systemic racism exists among institutions, both in Quebec and in the rest of Canada.

READ MORE: Systemic racism in Canada’s health care and how it affects vaccine rollout

“It’s especially important right now to recognize it because if you don’t recognize it, you can’t work to take it part in dismantling it”, Paul said, speaking of her conversation with the premier.

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She said Legault told her about the actions the Quebec government is taking to fight racism within the province, in particular setting up an action group that recommended 25 measures.

Paul said she finds it encouraging to know that there are initiatives underway, but believes it’s important for her to stress the very real concerns of minority groups.

READ MORE: Quebec premier, Montreal mayor disagree on ‘systemic racism’ in the province

The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government still refuses to recognize the existence of systemic racism, a situation that has created a stir with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, among others.

More recently, it was the family of Joyce Echaquan, an indigenous woman who died from abuse at a Quebec hospital, and the co-founder of the Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec, Boufeldja Benabdallah, who urged Legault to recognize systemic racism.

Paul said she hopes to have a chance to continue the discussion with Legault in person once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

“If we want to work together, even if we have differences, it is important to have open lines of communication”, the Green Party leader said.

Legault’s cabinet did not offer a comment on the meeting between the two politicians, but said that the provincial government’s position on the topic of systemic racism remains unchanged.

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–with files from Alessia Maratta, Global News

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