Call for applications considered discriminatory: Laval University has been heavily criticized

QUEBEC. On Wednesday, several ministers of the Lego government protested against the call for admission to Laval University, which they consider exaggerated and even discriminatory because it excludes white men.

The call for applications for the Canadian Research Chair (CRC) in Biology was released on Monday by comedian Guy Nantelle and was widely criticized on social media.

“Facilitate the recruitment or provision of research funds to underrepresented groups with equal competence, yes,” Deputy Prime Minister Genevieve Guillebaud said on her Facebook page on Wednesday.

“But the explicit exclusion of competent people because they are not part of a visible minority or because they are male is redundant for the Quebec government.”

In its application announcement, Laval University indicates that it will only accept applications from women, Aboriginal people, people with disabilities, or those belonging to visible minorities.

The institution “may not submit other types of candidate profiles until the objectives of its representation in accordance with the requirements of the CRC program are met,” the statement said.

According to Ms. Gilbeau, the criteria for Canadian research departments, which exclude qualified people from universities, go too far.

“This is very surprising,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Nadine Giraud. We do not want discrimination on the one hand, we must not discriminate on the other hand either.

“In my opinion, the job offer should be open to everyone, to all good candidates. It’s a little embarrassing,” she added, before moving on to a question period.

His colleague, Indigenous Affairs Minister Jan Lafrenière, suggested that the selection of a candidate because of his gender or skin color was almost offensive.

He cited his wife, who works as a police officer, as an example.

“My wife, when they tell me she was hired because she is 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 CAQ ministers condemned the situation, Québec Solidaire parliamentary leader Gabriel Naude-Dubois chose not to condemn Laval University instead.

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

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

“But there are more progressive ways to achieve these goals. (…) What we proposed to Québec Solidaire was the hiring of one of the four until the goal for the organization in question was reached,” he explained.

The Liberal Party of Quebec and the Party of Quebec, even if they claimed to be in favor of better representation, were both strongly opposed to the way the University of Laval was run.

“I don’t think that automatically excluding people from the candidates is the right approach,” summed up the Liberal leader Dominic Anglade.

“This is completely unacceptable,” added PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon. We prevent certain candidates with a certain profile from being judged on the merit of their skills.”

Laval University is no different

In a written statement sent to the media, Laval University said it was no different from other universities.

“Canadian Research Chairs are subject to the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion requirements and practices of the Canadian Research Chair Program.

“They are funded by the federal government. All universities must meet these requirements. Laval University is no different from other universities,” said publicist Andre-Anne Stewart.

The aim will be to correct the inequalities faced by historically discriminated groups and to increase the representation of various researchers among Canada’s research chairs.

In 2021, Laval University awarded 27 CRCs, of which only 11 were awarded in competitions aimed at people from underrepresented groups.

The university employs about 1,600 people a year, and hiring people from underrepresented groups under the federal program accounts for 0.1% of its hiring.

“We can therefore say that, in general, job offers at Laval University do not exclude anyone,” insists Ms Stewart.

“They give priority with equal competence to a person from one of the following groups: women, members of visible and ethnic minorities, Aboriginal people and people with disabilities when they are underrepresented.”

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