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Anti-Black Racism: What Our Government Leaders are Doing About It

Photo credit: Taymaz Valley via Flickr

A summary of the comments made by Canadian Government Leaders about Anti-Black Racism in Canada

Anti-black racism is a systemic problem in Canada. There are many ways to support the cause, whether it be donating to different organizations, educating yourself about the issue, signing petitions, or attending protests. More information about Canadian Black Lives Matter initiatives can be found here: https://blacklivesmatter.ca/

Individual actions are important, but so are the actions that our government leaders make. So this article summarizes the views of all major government leaders in Canada that have publicly commented as of this being written. This is something you can keep in mind next election period.

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, Liberal Party of Canada Leader

Trudeau acknowledged that the systemic racism in policing is not exclusive to the United States and is experienced in Canada. He stated: “Over the past weeks, we’ve seen a large number of Canadians suddenly awaken to the fact that the discrimination that is a lived reality for far too many of our fellow citizens is something that needs to end”. Trudeau also acknowledged his mistakes, including blackface. 

Justin Trudeau attended an anti-racism protest in Ottawa and took a knee to stand in solidarity with the movement. Social justice activist, Kike Roach called the act a “hollow gesture,” demanding that Trudeau should actively confront the problem in Canada.

Andrew Scheer, Official Opposition leader, outgoing Conservative Party Leader

Scheer gave an address about his position on anti-black racism in Canada. He described the importance of Canada’s role as “a beacon of freedom to so many escaping slavery.”

He also mentioned that, despite Canada’s prideful hours in history pertaining to anti-black racism, Canada is no exception to it. He said, “Canada has had its own dark episodes of racism that cannot be ignored, and sadly not just in our past.” He specifically mentioned injustices such as being attacked in one’s own community and targeted on a bus as a result of one’s race. 

Jagmeet Singh, NDP Leader

Singh has criticized Trudeau’s actions and stated that Trudeau should “go beyond petty words, and petty speeches, and do something”. 

Singh has suggested actions such as ending racial profiling, committing to stop the over-incarceration of Black Canadians, stopping the judicial challenge to the federal government’s required compensation for First Nations children who are subject to a discriminatory child welfare system, and ensuring clean water, housing, and education.

Yves-Francois Blanchet, Bloc Quebecois Leader

Similar to Singh, Blanchet has called Trudeau to action. She suggested an acceleration to the processing of asylum claims in Canada. 

Elizabeth May, Green Party Leader

May concluded the Federal series of addresses with: “We can look at our conduct and our behavior […] When you see a bully, when you hear hate speech, we have to speak up. We have to speak out. Black Lives Matter. I want to do nothing by chant it in this place and stand together and say black lives matter.”

Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Liberal Party of Canada 

Freeland has stated that she is focused on addressing “Canadian complacency” and that Canadians need to “set our own house in order and […] be aware of the pain that anti-black racism causes here in our own country, of the reality that we do have systemic discrimination here in Canada”. 

Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development, Liberal Party of Canada

Hussen is the only black member of Trudeau’s cabinet. Hussen acknowledged systemic racism as a real issue for Indigenous and Black Canadians. He said that Canadians in general, but especially Canadian leaders, need to acknowledge that fact. He also stated that people need to support community groups and organizations that combat this social injustice on a day to day basis. Moreover, he wants Statistics Canada and equivalent provincial organizations to analyze data by race to recognize particular challenges in social policies. Note that Statistics Canada is already in the process of doing this. This will assist with his final part of the plan to offer the best policy solutions to help the issue.  

Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario

Contrary to the other figures mentioned in this article, Ford stated that unlike the U.S., Canada does not have “systemic, deep roots” of racism and that comparing U.S. and Canada is like comparing “night and day.” He says he believes in peaceful protest without anarchy. The premier has also stated that he does not tolerate racism. 

Andrea Horwath, Provincial Opposition Leader, NDP Leader

Horwath released a series of tweets criticizing “lip service to Black communities’ pain, addressing each outrage as the [first] isolated incident, instead of the latest in an institutional pattern.” She specifically mentioned the case of Regis Korchinski-Paquet. She said her party stands with Black communities who demand that the government “actually do the work of rooting out anti-Black racism in all our institutions.”

Steven Del Duca, Ontario Liberal Leader

Del Duca acknowledged racism in Canada when he tweeted: “I love my country. I think it’s the best country in the world. But I want to be even better. That starts with acknowledging that we can and must fight systemic racism every day. Only then can true healing begin.”


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