Call for applications deemed discriminatory: Université Laval called to order

Laval University specifies that only applications from women, Aboriginal people, people with disabilities or those belonging to visible minorities will be accepted. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

Several ministers of the Legault government protested Wednesday against a call for applications from Laval University which they consider exaggerated and even discriminatory, because it excludes white men.

The call for applications in question, for a Canada Research Chair (CRC) in biology, was flushed out Monday by comedian Guy Nantel and widely criticized on social networks.

“Favor the hiring or the granting of research funds for under-represented groups, with equal competence, yes”, declared Wednesday the Deputy Prime Minister Geneviève Guilbault on her Facebook page.

“But explicitly excluding competent people because they are not part of a visible minority or because they are men is overkill for the Quebec government.”

In its call for applications, Université Laval specifies that only applications from women, Aboriginal people, people with disabilities or those belonging to visible minorities will be accepted.

The institution “cannot submit other types of candidate profiles until its representation targets are met, in accordance with the requirements of the CRC Program,” it says.

The criteria for Canada Research Chairs, which come to exclude competent people in universities, go much too far, according to Geneviève Guilbault.

“It’s quite surprising, also reacted the Minister of International Relations, Nadine Girault. We do not want to discriminate on one side, we must not discriminate on the other side either.

“In my opinion, the job offer should be open to everyone, to all good candidates. It’s a bit awkward,” she added before going to question period.

His colleague, the Minister responsible for Indigenous Affairs, Ian Lafrenière, suggested that it was borderline insulting for a candidate to be chosen because of his sex or the color of his skin.

He gave the example of his wife who is a police officer.

“My wife, to be told she’s hired because she’s a woman, it drives her crazy, she hates it. She was hired because she is competent, and yes, she is a woman,” he said.

QS refuses to condemn the university

While the CAQ ministers denounced the situation, the parliamentary leader of Québec solidaire, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, chose instead not to condemn Laval University.

In a press briefing at the National Assembly, he stressed the importance of having institutions that are more representative of society.

“It’s important to have representation targets for diversity and then for minorities in public institutions. It is important that these targets are binding,” he argued.

“But there are more progressive ways to reach these targets. (…) What we proposed to Québec solidaire was one hiring in four until the target was reached for the organization in question,” he explained.

The Liberal Party of Quebec and the Parti Québécois, even if they said they were in favor of better representation, both spoke out firmly against the way of doing things at Université Laval.

“To automatically exclude people for candidacies, I don’t think that’s the right approach,” summed up Liberal leader Dominique Anglade.

“It’s completely unacceptable,” added PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon. We prevent certain candidates, with a certain profile, from being able to be evaluated on the merit of their skills.”

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