Browne: Canada, it’s time to appoint a Black Equity Commissioner

Not convinced that this will address practical issues and unclear whether she is thinking of only more awareness and political role as in the case of antisemitism and islamophobia, or something with more teeth like the an officer of parliament like the official languages commissioner.While I have argued in the past that an officer of parliament for multiculturalism could be useful, given a fair degree of commonality of issues across the various groups, commissioners for specific communities would be overkill and reduce accountabilities in the departments responsible:

From Dec. 5 to 8, some Ottawa residents have been part of the Canadian delegation, including representatives from the federal government and Black-focused community organizations, attending the first meeting of the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, in Geneva Switzerland. The forum will be an advisory body to the UN Human Rights Council, in line with the program of activities for the implementation of the UN International Decade for People of African Descent, which runs from 2015 to 2024.

A number of the Black groups attending will be calling for the government of Canada to appoint a Black Equity Commissioner, similar to the permanent Special Envoy on Antisemitism and new Special Representative on Islamophobia announced in the 2022 federal budget

Beyond the obvious reason of simple equity, there are other reasons for appointing a Black Equity Commissioner. First, with a little under two years left in the UN Decade for People of African Descent, the commissioner will help ensure addressing anti-Black racism remains a federal focus after the special decade ends. Second, with Statistics Canada reporting that Black Canadians faced the most hate crimes in Canada in 2020, and with other data showing Black Canadians continue to be disproportionately negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, lack of affordable housing, under-employment and other social determinants of health, the commissioner is more essential than at any moment in recent history to safeguard and expand substantive equality rights for Black people.

Source: Browne: Canada, it’s time to appoint a Black Equity Commissioner

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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