A party with an ethnic flavour

Updated: Tue Sep. 29 2009 1:20:20 PM ctvmontreal.ca

A party with a distinctly ethnic flavour has joined the race to control Montreal city hall. The Parti ethnique de Montreal is aimed at promoting the interests of immigrants and their communities. So far the party has three candidates in Park Extension and Cote-des-neiges, areas which have some of the highest ethnic populations in Quebec. Party Leader Monir Hossain, a political neophyte, says he would encourage higher immigration levels if elected.
But he adds that Quebec employers will have to open their minds to the hiring of new arrivals. "People are going to French school (and) after one year, two years, they say 'we sent our resumes ... but no response,' " says Hossain.
A perceived lack of recognition by mainstream parties is what prompted George Lemontzoglou to run for the party in Park Extension, home to some 80 ethnic groups. He accuses politicians of ignoring ethnic people unless there's a campaign. "Other parties are there when they need us, and then they forget about us," Lemontzoglou told CTV's Annie DeMelt.

One-half of Park Extension residents were born outside of Canada, and many are allophones who are highly coveted by Mayor Gerald Tremblay and his main rival, Vision Montreal's Louise Harel. But while the face of Park Extension keeps changing it remains one of the poorest areas in Canada. Lemontzoglou says job-creation is a top priority. "If you don't open the door to the jobs, how are they going to survive?"

Tremblay reacts Mayor Tremblay responded to the criticism that his Union Montreal party gives short shrift to ethnic voters, saying his party is multicultural. "If you look at the allophone community, we have representatives here," he said in a recent interview. "Their responsibility is to be very close to the community to improve their quality of life."

Fledgling party T
he candidates admit their platform needs work, and they still have to open a real campaign office. For now, they're meeting at a local doughnut shop and their definition of success would be to take a single seat in the Nov. 1 election.