Montreal Gazette

Councillor vows to keep up fight to reassure city's minorities


Snowdon councillor Sonny Moroz is disappoint­ed, but has not given up his quest to improve the sense of security among Montreal's minority communitie­s.

Moroz presented a motion at Monday's Côte-des-neiges—notre-dame-de-grâce borough council meeting requesting better policing, but it was heavily amended and watered down, he said. In the end, Moroz and fellow opposition councillor Stéphanie Valenzuela, who presented the motion, ended up voting against the amended form.

“We want more resources for the local police department­s, and our motion was just dismissed as mere words, but this comes from the community,” Moroz said. “I find it to be insulting.”

Côte-des-neiges—notre-damede-grâce is the city's most religiousl­y diverse borough and, in recent months, members of both the Jewish and Muslim communitie­s have expressed fears after being targeted by hate incidents. Among the examples are shots that were fired at two Jewish schools in the borough.

Jewish and Muslim institutio­ns have increased security personnel and ramped up their security measures in recent months, as the backlash over the war in the Middle East continues to play out in local communitie­s. Moroz said members of many other communitie­s have also expressed fears in recent months, and they, too, need reassuranc­e.

The motion called for the borough to form a task force to monitor the risks to targeted communitie­s, enhance law enforcemen­t around Jewish and Muslim schools and places of worship, and provide weekly updates to the leaders of vulnerable communitie­s on the deployment of police forces in the borough.

It also called on the borough to request police regularly publish updates on the number of hatecrime investigat­ions across the island, to compile data on online hate incidents, and to examine the locations for which protest permits are issued to minimize fear and inconvenie­nces for residents.

It also asked for an additional community developmen­t officer to organize an awareness campaign on hate speech in the neighbourh­ood police stations, Nos. 9 and 26, that cover the borough. It called for more police presence in the borough and for the city to request more support to maintain increased presence around the Jewish and Muslim communitie­s.

However, the motion as adopted merely asks police to be present at targeted institutio­ns, to continue their work evaluating the risks targeting those communitie­s and to provide communitie­s with regular updates.

Speaking to the Gazette this week, Côte-des-neiges—notredame-de-grâce borough mayor Gracia Kasoki Katahwa said many aspects of the motion were outside the scope of the borough council, and that it's up to Montreal police to analyze the risks and to step up their resources when needed.

“They have the expertise to determine which resources to deploy,” Katahwa said.

Katahwa was named to the executive committee by Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante last week to lead the charge against racism.

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Sonny Moroz

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