With a view to the Anti-Racism Act of 2017 and Ontario’s anti-racism strategic plan, the local chapter of Black Lives Matter asked questions of the provincial candidates in the upcoming election about the specific actions each party would make, “in order to challenge systemic racism faced by Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) within our province.”
They received no response from some candidates including: Sheldon Pressey (Sudbury) of the New Blue Party; Marc Despatie, Sudbury’s Conservative candidate and; Jason Laface of the Ontario Party. Laface has already made his feelings on BLM known.
You can find that story here.
However, they did received responses from Sudbury Liberal candidate David Farrow, Green Party Candidate for Sudbury, David Robinson and the incumbent, NDP candidate, Jamie West.
David Farrow - Liberal Candidate (Sudbury riding)
Farrow began by stating he feels that hate and intolerance have no place in Ontario and that a Liberal government would reverse cuts made to anti-racism programs and “strengthen ways to respond to complaints about racism in public school, health and child welfare systems, led by a stand-alone Minister.”
He said that his party would ensure “Black history, literature and the contributions of Black Canadians are featured in the yearlong curriculum and end streaming in schools which can segregate classrooms.
Farrow also noted a growth in hate crimes. “The number of hate crimes rose during the pandemic – especially toward Asian, Black, Jewish and Muslim Ontarians – so we’ll improve the investigation of hate crimes with enhanced Crown Attorney units dedicated to advising police and prosecuting hate crimes.”
He said there would also be an extension to the limitation period for putting forward a human rights complaint We’ll also extend the limitation period for putting forward human rights complaints from one to five years.
“We are also committed to implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action by working with and learning from Indigenous peoples and First Nations, guided by the principles of self-determination, reciprocity, and mutual recognition of nationhood,” said Farrow. “This includes increasing support for the option to learn First Nations languages, allowing Indigenous elders to teach Indigenous language classes and mandating the inclusion of the painful history of Canada’s residential schools across the K-12 curriculum while also learning about and celebrating the significant contributions of Indigenous peoples to Ontario and Canada.”
Jamie West - Incumbent, NDP Candidate (Sudbury)
West told Black Lives Matter that he is proud that his party formed Canada’s first Legislative Black Caucus.
“I am also proud to say that Andrea Horwath and the NDP Caucus supported the creation of the Anti-Racism Directorate (ARD) and the passage of the Anti-Racism Act that led to the Anti-Racism Strategy,” said West.
In fact, he said the NDP has previously called on the then Liberal government to include the collection of race-based health data.
“Unfortunately, race-based health information continues to be excluded from the Act,” said West. “This is why my colleagues introduced Bill 178, Black Mental Health Day Act, 2020. This would declare the first Monday of March each year Black Mental Health Awareness Day. It would also require the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to collect race-based data and require the provision of culturally appropriate health services.”
West stated an NDP government will implement an anti-racism strategy informed by race-based data collection across Ministries, and would coordinate an “all-government approach through a dedicated Minister responsible for anti-racism, while mandating that all public employees and legislators receive anti-bias and anti-oppression training,” he said. “We’ll also turn the directorate into a fully resourced Anti-Racism Secretariat, and the work of the Ministry will be advised by an Ontario Anti-Racism Advisory and Advocacy Council.
Adrien Berthier - Libertarian candidate (Sudbury)
Berthier focused his answers on Black Lives Matter Sudbury’s ability to be a community influencer for “individual rights.”
Berthier noted that he believes in reducing the size of government as much as possible and coming up with private solutions for as many services as possible, and said that BLM, as a group, would be able to provide many examples of “government power structures that are harming vulnerable Sudburians of all colours.”
Berthier stated he believes removing “government interference” is the key.
“The more we eliminate government interference the more easily it will be for private enterprise to provide opportunities and lift people out of poverty,” he said.
Berthier said he also has a vision for Indigenous people receiving their land back.
“This could be done in such a way that native (sic) bands would act somewhat like municipalities with the legal right to collect property tax and they can have the local municipal councils act on their behalf to service the residents,” he said.
Berthier believes that BLM could be a powerful community educator and can provide influence in supporting a “charitable foundation” that would be used to “restore the soil ecology of Sudbury and bring back the active ecosystems that help make Sudbury a wonderful fusion of urban and wilderness. The vision is to restore the region as the indigenous people once saw it. BLM can provide radical influence for change.”
David Robinson, Green Party Candidate (Sudbury)
Robinson said his government would “immediately strike a task force to develop policies and initiatives that address the adverse effects of racism, homophobia, and transphobia on peoples’ mental health and the barriers they face to accessing health care.”
In fact, he listed several specific aspects of the Green Party’s platform, including cultural responsiveness training for all healthcare professionals and one that is “trauma-informed and rooted in equity and anti-racism as well as increasing core funding for community-based, grassroots mental and physical health supports in racialized, newcomer, and other communities that have traditionally been underserved.”
Robinson said the Green Party would mandate and fund the collection of socio-economic and race-based data needed to “identify and correct inequities in provided care and health outcomes and would also address racism in schools with mandatory collection and reporting of race-based data for student, teacher and staff populations, as well as implementing standard procedures around the reporting of incidents of racism.”
Robinson said his party would also “fully fund the Anti-Racism Directorate, reversing the recent cuts, require anti-racism and anti-oppression training for all public sector employees and legislator and require the Ontario Public Service to commit to eliminate racism and discrimination, conduct random external audits, data collection and reporting, and establish a safe harassment and discrimination reporting system for staff. Robinson stated his government would also address the overrepresentation of Black children in provincial care by developing frameworks to provide culturally appropriate services to Black children, youth and families.
Jenny Lamothe is a reporter with Sudbury.com. She covers the diverse communities of Sudbury, especially the vulnerable or marginalized, including the Black, Indigenous, newcomer and Francophone communities, as well as 2SLGBTQ+ and issues of the downtown core.