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White Quebec Historian Claims Human Rights Violation Over Job Posting

A historian at Montreal’s Dawson College has filed a human rights complaint over a prestigious job posting that’s open only to women, Indigenous people, those with disabilities and racialized groups.

Frédéric Bastien, who specializes in Canadian history, said he saw a job posting for his specialty at Université Laval in Quebec City. But the diversity rules disqualified him right off the top.

“I was not able to apply to this job because basically it was specifically written that white males were prohibited from applying,” Bastien said in an interview.


Bastien said that if the posting said people of colour couldn’t apply, it would be totally unacceptable.

“And rightly so. Because it’s a racist criteria. And now racism against white people is actually accepted now,” Bastien said. “If anti-Black racism is bad, then anti-white racism is no better, obviously.”

The former Parti Québécois candidate said he filed a complaint with the Canada Research Chair program, the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Quebec’s human rights commission. The controversy was first reported by Le Devoir, a Quebec newspaper.

It’s the latest salvo in a debate over the diversity requirements of the research chair program, which are top-tier university positions funded by the federal government. A number of universities have job postings with similar restrictions.

In the job posting, Laval says it has a diversity, equity and inclusion plan that aims to increase representation of women, Indigenous people, those with disabilities and minority groups in Canada Research Chair positions.

“Only candidates with the required skills AND who have self-identified as a member of at least one of these four under-represented groups … will be selected at the end of this competition,” the posting says.


The most recent statistics available show that the program is exceeding its diversity targets, at least on overall metrics: By December 2019, 31 per cent of chairs were to go to women; as of September 2022, 44.3 per cent were held by that group. Fifteen per cent were to go to racialized individuals, and 24.9 per cent of chairs were held by members of that group.

By December 2029, women and gender minorities must make up 50.9 per cent of all Canada Research Chairs. Twenty-two per cent must be visible minorities; 7.5 per cent must be people with disabilities and 4.9 per cent must be Indigenous. These statistics correspond roughly to population statistics.

In recent months, a number of university job postings have had restrictive hiring criteria. Earlier this year, the University of Waterloo was hiring for three jobs, two of which excluded all cisgender men — regardless of ethnicity — and another was hiring exclusively Indigenous candidates.