White men excluded from calls for candidates: Liberals say “it’s going too far”

Federal Liberals believe that Université Laval is going “too far” by excluding a priori white men from calls for applications for certain positions in research chairs at Université Laval, even if the decision was taken under criteria stemming from the policies of the Liberal government.

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“No, I’m not comfortable with that,” said Quebec City MP Joël Lightbound at the entrance to caucus Wednesday morning. “I think you have to go there, certainly to promote inclusion, but that merit is prioritized.”

Mr. Lightbound said he “potentially” favors changes to federal rules requiring universities to meet diversity quotas in order to get their hands on funding from Canada Research Chairs.

“And [les règles] lead to that kind of result, yes, I wouldn’t be against it,” he said.

The elected representative of Mont-Royal, Anthony Housefather, believes that “to exclude from the world like that, it goes too far”. “I think it’s very important to have diversity, but I think it’s going too far, maybe,” he said.

In a similar vein, Ontario Liberal John McKay mentioned that this could be a case of “reverse discrimination” and that the system should be “improved”.

“The fundamental purpose of all of this is to give everyone an equal chance, hopefully without discrimination” over “the color of your skin or your ethnicity or your race or religion, whatever.”

For his part, Stéphane Lauzon, MNA for Argenteuil–La-Petite-Nation, believes that “we must be impartial and strike a balance” in the selection process.

Questioned on the subject, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “thinks that it is important to have a scientific community that reflects, like Canada, Quebecers”, without however commenting specifically on the case of the Laval University.

When the case was taken up in the media last week, Laval University defended itself by stating that it was “no different from other universities” since “all universities must comply with these requirements”.

The case had created strong reactions in Quebec. Several ministers of the government of François Legault denounced this decision, in addition to the leader of the Liberal Party Dominique Anglade and the leader of the Parti québécois Paul St-Pierre Plamondon.

The question was submitted to the House through a motion by the Bloc Québécois, which called on the government to “revise the federal criteria for Research Chairs in order to prevent exclusion in calls for candidates”.

Voices from the Liberal and New Democrat benches rose against the unanimous consent motion, which was ultimately defeated.

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