In an election that might very well one of the most important in recent times, Canada’s Black and Caribbean community along with other marginalized groups are laser focused on how the next government is proposing to deal with those issues that will make the post pandemic era different from our less than stellar history in this country.
Over the past 30-something days of election 2021 there has been little indication on the campaign trail from any of the leaders of the three main parties, the Liberals, Conservatives and the NDP of their commitment to level a playing field that has been uneven for so long.
Instead, we’ve had so much talk about building back better following the global crisis that Covid-19 heaped on us.
In reality, Canada’s future hinges on the wellbeing of minorities and their ability to participate fully in society.
Whichever of these three parties forms the next government has to recognize that the need for a major cultural shift to dislodged systemic racism in the workplace, in the education system, in the criminal justice system, health care and immigration.
Let’s dig into the platforms of the Big Three for evidence that they might be prepared to help change the future of our community and other marginalized groups in Canada.
The Liberals promise big
The Liberals tout diversity as the “strength” of Canada.
Since taking office in 2015, the party lead by Justin Trudeau positioned itself as a defender of minority rights and prepared to bring disadvantaged groups from the periphery of society.
The party lists among its achievements the Canada Child Benefit a tax-free monthly stipend that adds up to a maximum annual benefit of $6,833 per child under age 6 and $5,765 per child aged 6 through 17.
As well, it holds up its record of welcoming over 1.6 million new immigrants to Canada.
On the hyper-sensitive issue of systemic discrimination, the Liberals and its leader Justin Trudeau were quick to acknowledge that it exists in Canada and were prepared to put in place plans to tackle it.
One of its first actions was to put in place the Black Entrepreneurism Program, a combined initiative between the Canada government and financial institutions to assist
Black entrepreneurs and businesses find their footings and grow.
In its platform the Liberals recognize Canada’s Black community as “one of the most disadvantaged, with a higher prevalence of low-income households, lower employment rates, and a much higher likelihood of enduring discrimination at work.”
• $200 million to support “Black-led and Black-serving community organizations,” through a new Black-led Philanthropic
Endowment Fund, which will be administered independently by Black Canadians.
• $100 million to support artists and journalists with the tools to tell their own stories and promote diverse voices in arts and culture and across media
• Targeting Canada’s public service, (which has a sordid history when it comes to Black employees.) by creating something called the Diversity Fellowship that will sponsor and mentor young Blacks and other marginalized groups. Also implement an action plan to increase representation in hiring and appointments, and leadership development.
• Establish a mental health fund for Black civil servants
• Support Black researchers by strengthening targets for the
representation of Black Canadians in federally funded scientific research projects.
The Liberals also committed to Develop a Black Canadians Justice Strategy to address anti-black racism and discrimination in the
criminal justice system.
It includes comprehensive training for all federally
appointed judges to recognize how disadvantages and systemic racism contribute to the way racialized Canadians’ interacts with the
criminal justice system.
Also, actions to make policing fair for Blacks and other minority groups.
On the immigration front the Liberals are promising:
* to eliminate the application fee for permanent residents
* reduce processing time
* issue visas to applicants (spouses and children) abroad
No systemic racism here
During his run for leadership of the Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole refused on several occasions to acknowledge that there is systemic racism exists in Canada and that it is having a crippling impact on certain minority groups.
\Today, he remains dogged in his refusal to recognise the scourge.
More than that, the Conservative Party of Canada even with its zest to position itself as a potential
alternative to the Liberals could not bring itself to mention the words in its extended 160-page platform.
Instead, the document touts the glory of this country to potential immigrants and refugees: “Nowhere on earth is there more equality of opportunity, embrace of diversity, or success for newcomers than Canada…”
The platform went on to reassure immigrant that: “In a dangerous world, Canada remains a beacon of the best humanity has to offer, providing safety and opportunity to all. We are a country determined to measure success not on a person’s faith or family name but on the merit of their abilities, the promise they possess, and on their determination to succeed.”
In other words: “No systemic racism here.”
The document also took the opportunity to chastise the Trudeau Liberals of the cynical art of “stoking anxieties in vulnerable communities.”
It’s pledge is to rebuild a robust immigration system hinged on what can be determined to be cherry-picking:
“Welcomes the best and brightest from around the world to fill critical gaps and robustly grow our economy….
NDP Is Ready For Better And Plans
To Confront Racism
The New Democrats promises to take a leadership
role in understanding the roots of systemic racism.
It promises also to prioritize the collection of
race-based data on health, employment, policing as a way to better position socio-economic standings of Blacks, Indigenous and other marginalized groups.
Recognizing those disparities in the workforce the NDP promise “a comprehensive review of the existing employment equity regime to help close the
racialized wage gap.”
New Democrats also pledge to will strengthen labor laws as a way of increasing diverse and equitable hiring within the federal public service, and in federally-regulated industries.
Also forward an infrastructure plan centered around jobs and training for under-represented groups.
A New Democrat government pledges to convene a national working group to counter hate in its varied forms: hate speech, hate crime, in person and online. Anti-Semitism, anti-Black racism, Islamophobia
and other forms of hate
The NDP recognizes that minorities across Canada have been impacted in a more significant manner by the pandemic due to systemic racism and inequalities in health care, housing and working conditions. It promises to take action to counter the factors that led to these tragic outcomes.
The criminal justice system and the chronic over-representation of Indigenous peoples and Black Canadians in the federal prison population will also be the focus of a NDP government. ,
It promises to “put in place a national task force to develop a roadmap to end this systemic injustice.”