Posted on August 10, 2018

Quebec’s Young Liberals Propose Financial Reward for Cultural Diversity

Philip Authier, Montreal Gazette, August 8, 2018

The Liberal youth wing is calling on the Couillard government to encourage cultural organizations to show greater sensitivity to ethnic minorities and indigenous people in the wake of recent theatre controversies.

Saying there has been a lack of dialogue on the issue of cultural appropriation, youth-wing president Stéphane Stril said his generation is in tune with Quebec’s diversity and thinks Quebec can do better.

He refused to say whether he supports the recent cancellations of Robert Lepage’s SLAV musical and another play, Kanata, in the wake of protests.

But the youth believe theatres that include more minorities in their productions should be entitled to higher subsidies from organizations like the Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC).

“Unfortunately, the fact these two productions were cancelled shows us that a malaise was created,” Stril told reporters at a news conference. “I think there was a lack of dialogue on this issue.”

“These questions affect our generation a lot. Our generation lives in a very diverse world where various communities are present. We encourage diversity.

“People of colour must see themselves when they go to theatre and see there is also a place for them. About one Montrealer in three was not born in Montreal and comes from away. I think all this should be visible when we go to the theatre and movies.

“This is the direction we want to pursue: encourage dialogue and the sensitization of the public and the actors in this milieu to ensure such events do not happen again.”

Stril made the comments releasing a package of political resolutions up for debate on Saturday at the Liberal youth wing’s annual policy convention being held in Montreal.

The event, which draws hundreds of Liberal youth, is often tagged as the start of Quebec’s political season. This year it comes only days before Premier Philippe Couillard launches the fall general election leading to a vote Oct. 1.

Couillard is to address the convention himself Saturday afternoon.

Stril said the cultural appropriation issue rapidly became an issue for Liberal youth in the wake of developments in Montreal.

But he didn’t hesitate to distance himself from groups protesting the productions, saying in some cases they were “too aggressive and used overly harsh language.”

“Insulting people going to see a theatre production is certainly not the solution,” Stril said adding he believes artistic freedom is an absolute in Quebec society.

The Liberal youth have other proposals to debate. The convention’s overall theme is “Millennials, it’s our time.”

One proposal calls for the government to gradually ban the production and sale of vehicles propelled by fossil fuels.

If adopted, the youth will call on the government to ban the sale of new vehicles which use gasoline by 2040 with the idea of banning them outright by 2050.

They also want the government to encourage more immigrants to live in regions to respond to chronic labour shortages.