Montreal City Council adopts motion for young people in politics in Anjou controversy
Montreal City Council unanimously adopted a motion encouraging young people to get involved in politics.
“We want to hear from young people, we don’t want them to settle down,” said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who tabled the motion on Monday. “We need to hear them, to see how they feel.”
She didn’t mince words in her criticism of Anjou borough mayor Luis Miranda, who recently came under fire for his reaction when a teenager came to speak to her at the borough council.
“This incident has caused harm to our entire society,” she said. “When an elected official, an adult, whatever their level or their party, acts like this, it affects the way we all work.”
“It seriously undermines the relationship of trust that we work to build with young people, and we cannot tolerate this kind of behavior,” she said.
Incident seen thousands of times
Hocine Ouendi – then 15 – had appeared before Miranda at a borough council meeting in early October. Ouendi said he was disappointed that the borough decided to close several football fields without notice.
Miranda – visibly irritated – responded with a tirade, saying the decision to close the fields was made following the “incivility” of “the majority” of young people who go there.
“Me, at 15, I wouldn’t have come to confront the mayor like you did. I don’t know why it’s you. It should have been your father or your mother who should have been there”, a- he declared.
Miranda added that he doesn’t have this problem with other sports, such as hockey and baseball – a comment that some have interpreted as discriminatory towards young people from immigrant communities, who tend to gravitate towards soccer.
Alia Hassan Cournol, municipal councilor for the Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough, said that as a young Arab woman in politics, hearing these comments made her furious.
“To group young people – young people from specific communities, young Muslims – in this way in a municipal council… is unacceptable.
Miranda, who was present at the city council on Monday, apologized “for [his] reaction”, but said he did not regret the closure of the football grounds, saying he had to do something to reassure the population.
“We wouldn’t be here if the mayor [Plante] had met its public safety commitments,” he said.
Miranda nevertheless voted for the motion.
According to Radio-Canada, two of the three soccer fields in Anjou at the origin of the incident reopened discreetly last weekend.