When they came to power in 2015, the Trudeau Liberals promised to ‘build a government that looks like Canada.’ Now those words have slowly been transformed into actions

Nice profile of a former IRCC colleague and her leadership in anti-Black racism both within IRCC and more broadly.

The percentage of visible minority executives is incorrectly stated at 4.6%, not the 11.1% in the latest employment equity report (for the numbers, see https://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/october-2020/what-new-disaggregated-data-tells-us-about-federal-public-service-diversity/):

As she watched the George Floyd story and anti-Black-racism movement unfolding worldwide last summer, Farah Boisclair emailed her colleagues at Canada’s immigration department and called a town-hall meeting to talk about racism.

“I was going through a lot of emotions showing up to work. There’s a global movement and it was plastered all over the media, but no one was talking about it at work,” says Boisclair, director of the anti-racism task force at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

“Part of me saddened, part of me frustrated. Why isn’t anybody saying anything? That’s when I woke up and said, ‘You are a leader. You have the power. You have people who work with you, who look like you and who may be feeling a certain way, like you.”

With the blessing of her boss, she made her first presentation to more than 300 of her colleagues on topics such as experiences of microaggression, white privilege and racism.

Boisclair, whose mother is Haitian and father Guyanese, is now a member of the Federal Speakers’ Forum on Diversity and Inclusion, a platform where public servants share their lived experience with colleagues and management.

Trying to have a conversation about race and racism is tough, let alone at work in a professional setting. However, it’s one of the many initiatives the federal government is banking on in its attempts to make strides in creating and promoting a diverse and inclusive public service.

Earlier this year, with little fanfare, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat unveiled the government’s priorities to increase diversity in hiring and appointments within the public service — a commitment that was reaffirmed in the federal budget in April.

Collecting and breaking down its employee data by disability, ethnic backgrounds and executive roles, and ensuring the statistics are made public;

Launching the Centre for Diversity and Inclusion to lead and keep track of departments and agencies in their efforts to address systemic racism and boost diversity representation through collaboration with diverse community groups;

Revamping the government’s existing mentorship program and starting a sponsorship program to groom civil servants from under-represented groups into leadership and executive roles in their organizations; and

Setting up a speakers’ bureau, to help raise awareness about diversity and inclusion within the public service through a roster of speakers who share their experience across departments and ministries.

“There is good momentum across the government and a desire to make significant progress on diversity and inclusion,” said Paule-Anny Pierre, executive director of the new Centre for Diversity and Inclusion.

“Our actions will help ensure that decisions, initiatives and programs across the public service foster and promote a workplace that is respectful, diverse and inclusive, that represents the population it serves and that enables each employee to feel valued and contribute at their full potential.”

There’s a lot of work to be done to boost diversity in the public service, especially among those in the leadership roles. The latest government data shows visible minorities made up only 4.6 per cent of all executives and Blacks accounted for 1.6 per cent in those roles. [Note: Correct figure is 11.1 percent]

The 2020 Public Service Employee Survey, its results released in May, also added new questions to measure employees’ perceptions of anti-racism in the workplace.

Almost 80 per cent of the 188,786 respondents said they would feel free to speak about racism in the workplace without fear of reprisal and felt comfortable sharing concerns about issues related to racism in the workplace with a person of authority.

Born and raised in Ottawa, Boisclair said no one around her worked for government. However, a co-op opportunity with the federal government while studying finance at the University of Ottawa opened the door for her.

In her 13 years with the government, she has worked in various departments, including Industry Canada (now Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada), Natural Resources Canada and Infrastructure Canada.

On many occasions, she said, she would find herself one of the few or the only person who was a visible minority in her teams.

“I felt hyperaware of myself in these environments. I was constantly like, ‘Be careful what you say, be careful what you do, be careful how you interact.’ With that, I think, I held myself back a lot (in terms of) speaking up on my ideas and my thoughts,” said Boisclair.

“It’s very much like: ‘I’m here to do a job. They’re going to tell me what to do and I’m going to do it.’ … I knew I was different from the others. You don’t want to stick out too much. You try to go along to get along.”

As a Black woman, Boisclair said, she has experienced microaggression at work many times and felt invisible in board rooms.

“I will be joined by a white colleague, a woman around the same age, same group in level, both managers from the same team. I remember the treatment of my colleague when I was working with her for three years, it was very different,” she recalled.

“When we’d go to meetings together, I felt like it’s her race and even the standard of beauty in the North American context, she got very different treatment, more eye contact, more interaction with her. It’s hard and you don’t want it to get into your head.”

The experience, she said, made her feel less important and less valued.

Although the faces in the rank and file of the federal public service are changing, she said all her managers, until now, were predominantly white.

Periodically, Boisclair would have a mentor in her department but only recently was she assigned a Black woman as her official sponsor at work.

“It’s really important to have mentors from different groups and genders, because they each offer different perspectives and each can relate to you on different levels,” she said.

“I have had mentors who professionally give you really good advice but when it came to some of those deeper conversations about race and my identity in the workplace, that’s a bit tough with the white mentors,” she noted.

Dahabo Ahmed Omer, a policy development and employment equity expert, says mentorship/sponsorship and speakers’ bureau initiatives are important tools in building understanding and trust in order to create awareness and cultural change within the organization.

A former human resources specialist with the federal government herself, Ahmed Omer said government mandates, strategies and practices are set by senior leaders who play a key role in the building of an inclusive public service.

“There’s the history of slavery, anti-Indigenous racism. You build trust by listening actively and by implementing solutions that directly come from the community,” said Ahmed Omer, now the executive director of BlackNorth Initiative, an effort led by the Canadian Council of Business Leaders Against Anti-Black Systemic Racism.

“The voices of the most marginalized have to be at the forefront.”

Organizations must pick the right mentors, give access to as many mentees as possible and make sure the under-represented groups have opportunities to apply what they’ve learned so they can seize those opportunities when they arise at work, she noted.

From reviewing staffing plans to budget priorities and resource allocations through a diversity lens, Ahmed Omer said the effort must be “deliberate” and she is liking the federal plan she has seen so far.

Boisclair said she is grateful to have a sponsor at work, who gives her pointers in her career development, sends her articles to inspire and equip her, expand her network and champion her in the immigration department, which had 8,500 employees in 2020.

Last year, after seeing her anti-racism presentation with her staff, her sponsor invited her to speak to a couple of dozen deputy ministers from different departments in October. Since then, she has done about 25 townhalls within the federal public sector to share her experience and stories.

These conversations are difficult, said Boisclair, because they are “too raw” for a lot of people.

“You are talking about deep, deep, deep emotions, trauma and, in a lot of cases, some people just don’t know how to deal with emotions in the workplace. When some of the people are sharing some of the more intimate experiences, it’s hard,” she said.

“A lot of people don’t want to deal with the feelings of guilt. People don’t like to get uncomfortable,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense for them. Why would I put myself in an uncomfortable position?”

The experience from these candid conversations has also been refreshing and empowering.

“At the time, I was feeling like, I’m just tired of putting on a filter. I need to show my lived experience as a woman, as a Black person, as a Canadian, the full essence of who I am. That doesn’t often happen at the workplace for racialized people,” said Boisclair.

“I have had these dialogues for many, many years in close circles at home. You would never, never have these conversations at work. For me, it’s time to open people’s minds up to the reality of systemic racism and the harmful impacts of it.”

While these conversations, along with the mentorship/sponsorship program, can drive awareness of racial understanding and organizational cultural change, Ryerson University professor Wendy Cukier says disaggregated data can provide the barometer to identify gaps and measure results.

“We need good data to tracking things like what works and what doesn’t work. We need to apply the same gender and diversity lens to how government spends money and who it’s serving. There’s the inward piece but also the outward reaching piece,” said Cukier, founder and academic director at Ryerson’s Diversity Institute.

“It’s not that anybody deliberately puts up bars or gates, but you need the data to see if certain segments of the population are applying for jobs in my department and what I can do to increase engagement.”

The latest statistics on employment equity populations published by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat provide a glimpse at the diversity representation of the federal public service:

Overall, visible minorities made up 656 or 4.6 per cent of all executives;

Black people made up 96 or 1.6 per cent of all executives;

Indigenous peoples made up 239 or 4.1 per cent of all executives;

There were 1,387 persons with disabilities working in administrative support, which was 7 per cent of all these employees; and

People who are blind or visually impaired made up 767 or 0.4 per cent of all employees.

“Leaders have to represent the people they are leading, otherwise they are not going to be very effective. When organizations have leaders who look like the people they are leading, they have higher levels of engagement,” said Cukier.

“People tend to associate with people who look like them. If you’re from a racialized population, you are less likely to have a social network that will help you understand the unspoken rules that will mentor you and promote you at work.”

Cukier said the dominant group in the workforce should not feel threatened fearing that the progress for their under-represented peers will be made at their expense, given the civil service is full of boomers, many of them will be retiring in the near future.

“There is a huge challenge in digital and technological transformation in the public sector, which has one of the most acute skill shortages. This is not a question of new people pushing the established group out, this is a question of meeting concrete need for skills and new thinking,” she said.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense to rely on the same kind of people if your goal is to drive transformation. We know there’s a strong link between diversity and innovation.”

Quebec MP Greg Fergus, parliamentary secretary to Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos, agreed.

“You don’t make this a ‘I win, you lose’ kind of equation. It’s not an ‘either or.’ It’s a ‘both and.’ We all benefit by growing the pie. We’re better together,” said Fergus. “This is not about cutting anybody’s career short. This is about building a more resilient public service.”

Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2021/05/23/when-they-came-to-power-in-2015-the-trudeau-liberals-promised-to-build-a-government-that-looks-like-canada-now-those-words-have-slowly-been-transformed-into-actions.html

Lisée – Et maintenant: l’endoctrinement [on federal antiracism training guide]

Jean-François Lisée picks up on Brian Lilley’s critique (LILLEY: Feds’ anti-racism training deals with political agendas, nothing else), albeit in a more sophisticated mannner:

Les fonctionnaires fédéraux ont-ils droit à la liberté de conscience ? Pour peu qu’ils soient respectueux des normes et des lois et de leurs collègues de travail, ont-ils droit à leurs propres opinions sur l’histoire de leur pays et sur l’état des relations raciales ? La réponse est désormais non. Il existe une doctrine d’État que les fonctionnaires doivent apprendre et internaliser, quelles que soient leurs expériences de vie ou leurs visions du monde. Un document fédéral officiel obtenu par le Toronto Sun grâce à la Loi sur l’accès à l’information est à la fois fascinant et scandaleux. Il s’agit du Parcours d’apprentissage dans le cadre de la lutte contre le racisme. La chose irait de soi si l’apprentissage en question portait sur les pratiques discriminatoires à éviter, les bienfaits des politiques d’accès à l’égalité, les normes, les recours et les sanctions. Mais le document s’attaque aux opinions qu’on peut avoir — et qu’on ne doit pas avoir — sur les causes, l’histoire et la définition du racisme. Les participants sont appelés à « apprendre, [à] désapprendre et [à] réapprendre ».

Par exemple, peut-être avez-vous la conviction que le Canada fut fondé sur une volonté de créer un pays distinct de l’expérience états-unienne, mettant en équilibre les intérêts de plusieurs anciennes colonies, dont le Québec francophone, et voulant maintenir un lien fort avec la couronne britannique ? Peut-être pensiez-vous que, parmi les graves imperfections du pays, il y eut la mauvaise part faite aux Autochtones et des pratiques répréhensibles envers des minorités de couleur ?

Si vous jugiez que, contrairement à l’impact structurel de l’esclavage dans l’histoire états-unienne, ces événements malheureux ne constituaient pas l’essence même de l’existence du Canada, l’État canadien vous rabroue officiellement. Vous êtes porteurs d’un « mythe » et de « déformation des faits historiques » qu’il faut désapprendre. La réalité, présentée comme un « fait » qui n’est pas ouvert au débat, est que le racisme est au cœur de l’expérience canadienne, un de ses fondements. L’existence même du Canada est une agression.

Trudeauiste bon teint, peut-être oserez-vous faire valoir que le multiculturalisme est une politique officielle depuis un demi-siècle et que le Canada est en passe de s’affranchir de son passé honteux ? Vous avez tort. Je cite : « Chaque institution était et est toujours utilisée pour prouver que la race existe et pour promouvoir l’idée que la race blanche est au sommet de la hiérarchie des races et que toutes les autres lui sont inférieures. » Chaque institution était et est toujours, en 2021, raciste. Et si vous tiquiez devant le concept de racisme systémique, cramponnez-vous, car la doctrine officielle a franchi un nouveau cap. Le document décrit ainsi la situation actuelle du racisme canadien : « Un groupe a le pouvoir de pratiquer une discrimination systématique au moyen des politiques et pratiques institutionnelles. » Oui, on est passés de systémique à systématique.

La doctrine vous rabroue doublement si vous osez procéder à des comparaisons avec les États-Unis sur le nombre des victimes ou sur l’intensité du dommage causé. Le document est explicite : « Le racisme est tout aussi grave au Canada. » Fin de la discussion. C’est un dogme.

Il y est aussi question d’esclavage, et le document prend bien soin d’indiquer que ce fléau fut répandu au Canada, y compris en Nouvelle-France, ce qui est vrai. Les fonctionnaires qui l’ignoraient peut-être sont aussi informés que les Autochtones furent victimes de l’esclavage. Mais le document omet de signaler que les nations autochtones pratiquaient l’esclavage entre elles avant l’arrivée des Européens, et après, et qu’elles ont participé à la traite des Noirs sur le continent. Je souhaite bonne chance au fonctionnaire qui oserait soulever ce fait historique lors d’une formation.

Puisque le racisme est défini étroitement, comme l’oppression d’une race par une autre, et jamais d’une ethnie par une autre, il n’est nulle part question du fait que les Britanniques, des Blancs, ont voulu déporter d’autres Blancs, des Acadiens, ou que les Canadiens français furent pendant deux siècles victimes de discrimination. Le colonialisme est un élément fondateur du pays (c’est incontestable), mais pas la Conquête (c’est loufoque). Notons que l’antisémitisme est aussi passé sous silence, un angle mort problématique dans la culture woke.

On y parle évidemment du privilège blanc, qui peut être personnel, institutionnel ou structurel, intentionnel ou non. Tous les fonctionnaires blancs doivent donc apprendre qu’ils sont, par défaut, coupables de racisme. C’est dans leur nature. Le caractère univoque et culpabilisateur de la formation est à couper le souffle.

Prenons un instant pour réfléchir à l’existence même de ce document officiel.

Nous avions entendu Justin Trudeau déclarer à plusieurs reprises qu’il avait, lui, la conviction que toutes les institutions canadiennes étaient coupables de racisme systémique. Il est rare que le premier ministre d’un pays accable ainsi la totalité des institutions qu’il a pour charge de diriger, de représenter et, au besoin, de réformer.

Mais bon, c’était son avis personnel. Que ces notions soient débattues dans les universités, dans les panels, à la radio ou dans les journaux est une chose. Mais il ne s’agit plus désormais d’opinions discutables parmi d’autres. Les fonctionnaires fédéraux sont désormais contraints de participer à des formations où on leur dit que cette vision du monde est la bonne, que c’est la ligne juste, et que s’ils pensent autrement, ils doivent désapprendre, pour mieux apprendre. Il s’agit ni plus ni moins que d’endoctrinement.

On voudrait savoir qui a décidé que la théorie critique de la race était devenue doctrine d’État ? À quel moment et dans quel forum ? Qui a acquiescé à cela ? Et surtout, comment infirmer cette décision absurde qui est une atteinte frontale à la liberté de conscience ?

Source: Et maintenant: l’endoctrinement

LILLEY: Feds’ anti-racism training deals with political agendas, nothing else

While not a great fan of Lilley’s commentary, I do give him credit for bringing this GAC/Foreign Service Institute guide to public attention.

While his criticism is overstated, some of the guide is overly simplistic, woke or splitting hairs (e.g., that reverse racism against white people doesn’t exist because of power dynamics, racism in Canada is the same as USA while there are both commonalities and differences) and doesn’t acknowledge some of the progress, albeit imperfect, that has taken place over the last few generations. Government training material should be more balanced in its treatment:

Wearing blackface is an act of white supremacy but so is seeking to be objective. These are some of the things you will learn if you happen to work for the federal government and are taking their latest anti-racism course.

Documents obtained under access to information show a real stretch on the definition of racism.

Source: LILLEY: Feds’ anti-racism training deals with political agendas, nothing else

Adopt anti-racism framework, urges Australian Human Rights Commission

Of note:

The Australian Human Rights Commission is calling on the federal government to implement its new plan for a national anti-racism framework.

The concept paper, released on Wednesday, outlines key components that need to be included in the framework. According to the paper, the framework must recognise and acknowledge Australia’s ancient Indigenous heritage, its British heritage, and its diverse multicultural heritage.

“A national framework should also acknowledge Australia’s geo-political location in the Asia-Pacific region in the ‘Asian century’ as well as being capable of embracing the history and circumstances of Australia’s diverse diaspora communities,” the paper said.

Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan noted that recent events have shown that Australia is facing a resurgence in racism.

“The Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted injustices experienced by people from culturally diverse backgrounds and by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed ugly racism against people of Asian descent here in Australia,” he said in a speech on Tuesday.

“And ASIO and the AFP have repeatedly identified home grown terrorism and extremism as a significant threat to the national security of Australia. It is also now just over two years since the terrible events in Christchurch, New Zealand, where an Australian man murdered 51 people, and attempted to murder another 40 people.”

Tan argued that it’s time to treat the “scourge of racism” in the same way that issues such as domestic violence and child abuse are treated.

“On those issues we have in place longstanding national frameworks, signed onto by all governments in Australia, with three-year action plans to target priority issues and make serious headway in addressing them,” he said.

“Let me be clear: racism is a significant economic, social and national security threat to Australia. It is time we treated it as such. We need a new approach to combatting racism — one that is more cohesive across government, that builds community partnerships to prevent racism from flourishing, and one that is smarter and more effective.”

The AHRC’s proposed national framework would do this, Tan said.

Source: Adopt anti-racism framework, urges Australian Human Rights Commission

Benoit Charette devient le ministre responsable de la Lutte contre le racisme

While hampered by his government’s refusal to recognize systemic racism, he and the government will be judged more by any concrete improvements they are able to realize:

Le premier ministre François Legault compte sur son nouveau ministre responsable de la Lutte contre le racisme, Benoit Charette, pour poser des « gestes concrets » pour combattre la discrimination, mais aussi pour sensibiliser les Québécois « de souche » aux périls du racisme.

« Ce n’est pas parce que quelqu’un est parmi le groupe qui est victime que nécessairement, la personne est mieux placée pour lutter », a fait valoir M. Legault pour justifier son choix de ministre. « On s’adresse entre autres aux personnes qui font partie des Québécois qu’on appelle blancs, ou “de souche”, pour qu’eux autres — s’il y en a une minorité qu’on doit faire changer d’idée — [puissent] poser des actions. »

M. Legault a ensuite rappelé sa volonté de voir davantage de représentants des minorités visibles ou des nations autochtones dans les conseils d’administration. « C’est ça qu’on veut : que ceux qui sont en situation de pouvoir traitent de la même façon les représentants des minorités visibles et les Autochtones », a-t-il affirmé.

En entrevue au Devoir, Benoit Charette a réfuté les informations voulant que ses collègues Lionel Carmant et Nadine Girault aient d’abord été approchés pour occuper les fonctions qui lui ont été dévolues. Or, diverses sources sûres ont confirmé au Devoir que les deux ministres — qui faisaient partie du Groupe d’action contre le racisme (GACR), contrairement à M. Charette — ont refusé le mandat, après réflexion, en raison de leur emploi du temps chargé. Quant au ministre responsable des Affaires autochtones, Ian Lafrenière, sa nomination avait déjà suscité de fortes réactions, et son réseau de contacts auprès des communautés culturelles n’est pas aussi développé que celui de son collègue.

À l’annonce de sa nomination, Benoit Charette a dit de la lutte contre le racisme qu’il s’agissait d’un « dossier qui lui tient à cœur depuis longtemps ». Il a rappelé qu’il est en couple avec une femme d’origine haïtienne et que ses enfants sont « métissés ».

Au Devoir, il a déclaré que la question du racisme systémique anime parfois des échanges qu’il a avec ses enfants. « Ce sont des discussions que nous avons à la maison de manière très franche et ouverte », a-t-il déclaré. « Mon garçon, il y a quelques mois à peine, a eu un premier emploi et a été confronté à une situation moins agréable, donc ce sont des situations qui peuvent être bouleversantes », a-t-il illustré.

Lui-même a dit être sensible aux enjeux d’inclusion des personnes racisées, notamment dans les plus hautes sphères de l’État. Il a toutefois reconnu ne pas avoir nommé d’Autochtones ou de personnes issues des communautés culturelles à la tête des sociétés relevant du ministère qu’il dirige depuis deux ans. « C’est pour très bientôt », a-t-il assuré, en évoquant un « renouvellement clé » qui sera annoncé dans quelques semaines.

Pas question de reconnaître le racisme systémique

À l’instar du premier ministre, Benoit Charette a rejeté les appels à une reconnaissance du racisme systémique, puisque le concept est à son avis « mal défini » et surtout, « à l’origine de beaucoup de confusion ». Ni la définition proposée par la Commission des droits de la personne et de la jeunesse (CDPDJ) ni celle de la discrimination systémique formulée par la commission Viens ne lui conviennent. « C’est l’interprétation que plusieurs en font, malgré cet exercice-là [qui pose problème], a-t-il affirmé.  Le système est là pour protéger les citoyens. »

Pour preuve, il a évoqué une expérience de discrimination qu’il a vécue, il y a plus de 20 ans, lorsque sa femme et lui se sont fait refuser l’accès à un logement. Après une dénonciation à la CDPDJ et au bout de trois ans de démarches, il a obtenu gain de cause et le propriétaire a été condamné.

Pour M. Charette, le débat sur le racisme systémique « donne un faux sentiment de sécurité [et permet] de rejeter la faute sur l’autre ». « Mais en matière de racisme, on peut tous — qu’on soit noir, blanc, peu importe notre origine — alimenter certains préjugés. Donc si on se replie uniquement derrière un concept qui est très vague, qui est mal défini, ça nous enlève un peu une responsabilité qui nous revient », a-t-il plaidé.

Lui-même a dit avoir été victime non pas de racisme, mais de « méconnaissance et de préjugés » lorsqu’il a voyagé dans des pays où il se trouvait en « situation minoritaire ». « Peu importe la couleur de notre peau, peu importe nos origines, nous sommes tous susceptibles d’alimenter un racisme, d’alimenter certains préjugés à l’égard de certaines communautés ou de certains groupes, donc la solution est en partie à l’intérieur de chacun d’entre nous », a-t-il affirmé.

Un ministre capable d’agir ?

À ses côtés, le premier ministre a dit s’attendre à « une bonne réponse » de la part des communautés culturelles au sujet de cette annonce. « J’ai l’impression que si j’avais nommé quelqu’un qui est membre des minorités, on aurait dit : “Ben on le sait bien, il l’a nommée parce qu’il est membre d’une minorité”, a-t-il affirmé.  Pourtant, c’est tous les Québécois qui doivent lutter contre le racisme. Donc je pense que ce qui était le plus important, c’était de trouver une personne qui a le dossier à cœur et qui est habituée à agir. »

Or, là n’est pas la plus grande force de Benoit Charette, s’est inquiétée la cheffe libérale Dominique Anglade. « L’engagement et la capacité d’agir, ce n’est pas ce qu’il a démontré par le passé. C’est une chose d’être sensible aux enjeux, c’en est une autre de montrer qu’on est capables d’agir et ce n’est certainement pas ce qu’on a vu en matière environnementale », a-t-elle affirmé au Devoir. Pour elle, la nomination de M. Charette n’est ni plus ni moins qu’un geste de distraction de la part du gouvernement, qui cherche à attirer l’attention ailleurs que sur le dossier du tramway ou sur la diffusion d’avis de la Santé publique.

Mme Anglade a notamment déploré le fait que le ministre Charette s’en soit remis à sa collègue à la Sécurité publique, Geneviève Guilbault, lorsqu’un journaliste lui a demandé s’il comptait interdire les interpellations aléatoires, comme l’a recommandé le GACR.

Manon Massé, de Québec solidaire, a dit de Benoit Charette qu’il était « le ministre que le PM envoie dormir sur la switch ». « Il a tellement le pied sur le frein pour lutter contre les changements climatiques, il est taillé sur mesure pour “lutter” contre le racisme systémique à la sauce caquiste : nier le problème et freiner les solutions », a-t-elle écrit sur Twitter.

« Avec cette nomination, le gouvernement nous confirme que Benoit Charette est le ministre des dossiers dont la CAQ ne reconnaît pas l’importance : le racisme et la lutte contre les changements climatiques », a ajouté son collègue Andrés Fontecilla.

Méganne Perry Mélançon, du Parti québécois, a quant à elle dit s’attendre à des actions rapides de la part du ministre. « Il y a plusieurs mesures concrètes qu’on peut appliquer rapidement pour lutter contre le racisme. Je pense entre autres à l’interdiction de la condition “première expérience canadienne de travail” et au CV anonyme. Je tends la main au ministre pour qu’on y travaille ensemble », a-t-elle réagi.

Le chef de l’Assemblée des Premières Nations Québec-Labrador, Ghislain Picard, a quant à lui dit vouloir « laisser la chance au coureur ». Il s’est cependant inquiété de la nomination d’un « ministre à temps partiel ». « Il détient un portefeuille passablement important, donc ça laisse quelle place au racisme ? » a-t-il demandé.

En entrevue à Radio-Canada, l’entrepreneur Fabrice Vil s’est lui aussi dit inquiet de voir M. Charette délaisser « l’enjeu fondamental de la planète » qu’est l’environnement. « Et s’il était si compétent, pourquoi il n’était pas au Groupe d’action contre le racisme ? Pourquoi il n’était pas considéré à l’époque » a-t-il lancé, en précisant néanmoins qu’il ne souhaitait pas « exclure de facto » le ministre.

Source: https://www.ledevoir.com/politique/quebec/595813/benoit-charette-sera-le-ministre-responsable-de-la-lutte-contre-le-racisme?utm_source=infolettre-2021-02-25&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=infolettre-quotidienne

English article on his appointment:

Quebec Premier Francois Legault has enlisted his environment minister to spearhead the fight against racism in the province, naming Benoit Charette to the newly created post on Wednesday.

Charette added the responsibilities as part of a small cabinet shuffle announced in the provincial capital.

One of the recommendations of a task force that Legault had convened last summer to look at racism in the province was the appointment of a minister to implement its anti-racism action plan.

The 25 recommendations outlined in the final report released in December aim to tackle racial profiling and discrimination faced by minorities and Indigenous people in the province. Charette said he’s given himself until the end of the current mandate in 2022 to see those measures implemented.

“The fight against racism is first and foremost a question of human dignity,” he said, calling Quebec one of the most welcoming and tolerant societies in the world.

The Legault government has maintained that systemic racism does not exist in Quebec, and Charette echoed that Wednesday, saying what is most important is acting swiftly to fight racism. Charette noted the “system” in place includes the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the province’s Human Rights Commission to protect against discrimination.

Legault was asked Wednesday why the post didn’t go to one of the Coalition Avenir Quebec members who sat on the task force, in particular co-chairs and cabinet ministers Lionel Carmant and Nadine Girault, both of whom are of Haitian origin.

The premier said he spoke to Carmant and Girault and both have seen their workload increase in recent months. Carmant, the junior health minister, is in charge of reforming the youth protection system. Girault, the international relations minister, recently took on the immigration portfolio as well.

Charette, 44, is white. His wife is of Haitian origin and they have three children. He rejected the notion that not coming from a visible minority means lacking credibility fighting racism.

“In any case, whatever the reason, in my opinion, the colour of skin should not be an argument to disqualify someone,” Charette said.

He said he is no stranger to racism, having been refused an apartment, allegedly because of prejudice aimed at his wife. He recounted filing a human rights complaint that led to the landlord being sanctioned.

“It is at times subtle, it is at times direct, but in all cases, it is very offensive. It is very hurtful,” Charette said.

Legault said he has confidence in Charette, who was responsible for dealing with cultural communities when the party was in opposition. “And Benoit, I’ve known for many years and I know it’s a very important subject for him, so I think he’s the best person to fight against racism,” Legault said.

Charette said he’ll be meeting with leaders from different groups and communities in the coming days.

Charette was given the environment portfolio in January 2019. Some environmental groups raised concerns his new responsibilities would mean less time for environment and climate change issues. Charette assured that wouldn’t be the case, noting he has a dedicated staff.

Legault also announced Wednesday that Lucie Lecours would be joining cabinet as junior economy minister.

Source: Legault government taps Environment Minister Benoit Charette to oversee racism fight

Effective anti-racism strategies and conversations: Lessons from the literature

Not bad advice from Australia:

From racist tirades on buses and trains captured on camera phones, to genocide, deaths in custody, and race-based violence, there are many demonstrations of the need for good anti-racism interventions. One can’t help but look at instances of bigotry and wonder: could this have been prevented if prejudice had been targeted and challenged early on? Unfortunately, as psychologists one of the striking things we’ve found about studying anti-prejudice interventions is how frequently they backfire. Not only is it hard to lower other people’s prejudices, but sometimes our attempts to do so end up intensifying prejudice instead!

This insight and other findings from psychological research on racism and prejudice can dishearten those of us who have dedicated our studies to tackling the evils of racism in society. However, this research has also helped us to identify some important lessons to help to build resilience in this challenging area of behaviour change.

LESSON 1

Focus on change within your own group, not others

Racism interventions typically bring to mind mass media campaigns, tolerant organisational policies, and training in one-on-one interactions. Yet, all of these interventions can be ineffective if we don’t feel as though the anti-racism message comes from ‘one of us’ (a fellow group member). For instance, LNP party members are more likely to listen to and accept a message from Tony Abbott than one from Kevin Rudd. If people feel like someone from another group is judging them critically, it can make them reject the message (Hornsey & Imani, 2004) – and for an anti-racism intervention, it can make them intensify their prejudice. That’s why it’s so important that respected in-group members deliver the message and model the desired behaviour.

Sometimes, of course, this is not possible. Then, it can be helpful to stress that there’s a common identity that includes both sources and targets of discrimination (i.e., “We’re all Australians”). This approach comes with its own problems, however. For example, it can make people from more privileged backgrounds think the discrimination is ancient history that doesn’t need to be addressed anymore. Focusing only on the common in-group can also make advantaged group members expect forgiveness from disadvantaged groups without changing prejudiced behaviours, or increasing support for reconciliation (Greenaway & Louis, 2010).

LESSON 2

Portray tolerant behaviour as widely supported

Most activists have a strong instinct that emphasising the scale of the problem is important in a campaign (“Racism is everywhere, and must be overcome!”). However, psychological research suggests that this is not necessarily a good idea. People are most likely to accept a message of widespread discrimination if they don’t identify with the perpetrating group. If people identify with the perpetrating group (and after all, this is the group that anti-racism campaigns are targeting), then making salient the belief that discrimination is widespread may make people more likely to engage in the problem behaviour (Louis et al., 2007, 2012). Even the message “this behaviour is common but terrible and we need to change it” boils down to “this behaviour is common”, and people behave accordingly. We like to do what our group does, and if something is common, and characterises our group’s behaviour, we feel that that we should get involved (even with racism).

Therefore, it’s important to draw attention to alternative positive behaviours instead of increasing the salience of prejudice per se. In particular, one should focus on tolerant behaviour being expected, appropriate and morally right. For example, we suspect that recent news coverage featuring one person’s ranting racist diatribe on public transport followed by several people challenging the bad behaviour could have marked anti-racism effects.

LESSON 3

Friendship matters

Pointing out racial inequality is confronting for bigots, so the most effective ‘anti-racism campaigns’ may be indirect – those that provide positive portrayals of tolerant interactions between advantaged and disadvantaged groups without drawing attention to their anti-racism purpose. Putting forward racial minority group members as champions or leaders of a larger group may have powerful indirect effects, for example. There is also evidence showing that from toddlerhood onwards, having friends of different races reduces racism and increases intergroup warmth (Barlow et al., 2009). Even just seeing that intergroup friendships exist can lower prejudice, which is inspiring (Wright, Aron, McLaughlin-Volpe, & Ropp, 1997).

Therefore, if you’re from a more privileged background, you can make an effort to have a wide friendship circle and to talk openly about your intergroup friendships. Modelling and communicating inclusive attitudes and actions could be important to spread these norms. This concept of modelling can be extended to the use of high profile individuals in anti-racism campaigns. Seeing popular and respected in-group members engaging in tolerant behaviours can have powerful anti-racism effects.

LESSON 4

Break up the racist consensus, interrupt silences and claim the group!

What about directly confronting bigoted family, friends and co-workers? The first rule is, aim to break up the racist consensus – don’t be silent. A dynamic in which public racism goes unchallenged makes other people think racism is more socially acceptable than it is, which spreads the problem behaviour. Don’t let that happen – speak up!

Don’t leave it for minority group members either – often in a mixed-race group if someone says something racist, the other privileged group members freeze. They think only disadvantaged group members have the right to respond. But that can make it look like everyone’s racist, and put disadvantaged people on the spot. What’s more, when disadvantaged group members speak out they cop social flak (Kaiser & Miller, 2001). It’s often better for the most socially powerful non-racist person to speak up and show solidarity — that could be you!

When you talk, focus on the behaviour not the person, and say something like “No way. I reckon most people would think that …” and carry on from there articulating a positive, non-racist view. Or, “Whoa! What did you just say? We say x instead….” and so on. The good news is your intervention is more likely to be effective if you don’t make it part of a broader, hours-long conversation about your political differences. Ranters get tuned out. Express your anger later, with your non-racist friends. Short, warmly delivered, direct contradiction followed by a positive alternative could be the way to go.

LESSON 4a

Think carefully before calling someone racist

Calling someone racist or labelling their behaviour racist is good if it makes other bystanders less likely to copy them (e.g., children), or other disadvantaged group members feel like you’re standing by them passionately as an ally. But it puts the bigot on the defensive and may make them less likely to change. One on one, you’re better off talking about your personal experiences and what from your own life leads you to think whatever they said is not true. You also can appeal to common values (“Are you giving x a fair go?”; Louis et al., 2012) and to perspective-taking (“What would you do in their shoes?”). Acknowledging the basis for their views as valid (“You love Australia and want to protect what we have”) doesn’t mean accepting their view as valid. Listening and acknowledging what bigots say can be an important part of building the relationship trust that may subsequently allow them to hear what you’ve got to say in a non-defensive way.

LESSON 4b

Be in the minority without despondency

Finally, sometimes you’re trapped in a large group of racists whom you have no hope of changing. Should you still speak up? Yes! Take it lightly (you’re not going to change their views that day), but do take the opportunity to fracture their consensus. Briefly and warmly present a positive alternative belief or modelled behaviour. Stress the similarities between you, and then highlight your resistance to what they’re saying. Listen and acknowledge what they say, while continuing non-defensively but persistently to dissent. It may be tedious but it’s great karma – and it will make it easier for their views to change down the track.

LESSON 5

Politics matter

While we focus above on how individual APS members might confront racism successfully, coordinated political and social action is also critical for promoting legal and normative change (Louis et al., 2010, 2012). In the area of Reconciliation, supporting Indigenous groups and individuals is important. For example, APS members individually and collectively support AIPA (the Australian Indigenous Psychologists’ Association) and the APS Reconciliation Action Plan. Political advocacy by organisations like ANTAR (Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation) and Reconciliation Australia will always be important, along with voters urging their political parties to engage with and promote Reconciliation. This is especially true in an election year!

More broadly, we hope that readers combine personal and group-level support for anti-racism initiatives. Psychologists as well as other Australians can play a key role in promoting positive change by progressing personal friendships, taking stands in public, and supporting the interests of minority groups in workplaces, community organisations and political life.

Source: https://psychology.org.au/publications/inpsych/2013/august/louis

Feds fund 85 anti-racism projects that target economic barriers, online hate

Will look forward to the eventual evaluation of the program to assess its impact (when I worked in multiculturalism, the small size of the projects helped the various organizations but the longer-term impact was questionable):

The Liberal government has announced new funding for 85 anti-racism community projects designed to lower socio-economic barriers for racialized Canadians, tackle online hate, and monitor extreme-right groups.

Diversity and Inclusion Minister Bardish Chagger announced the projects on Thursday that would together receive $15 million under the federal Anti-Racism Action Program, the community-project component of the three-year, $45-million anti-racism strategy the federal Liberals launched last year.

Since its unveiling, the Liberal government has come under increasing pressure to boldly tackle systemic racism in Canada, particularly after anti-Black racism protests were held in American and Canadian cities following the death of George Floyd last summer.

In a scene captured on video and shared on social media to mass outrage, Floyd was a Black man who died while being aggressively pinned down by a Minneapolis police officer.

“We’ve seen the reality of racism at the front of global and national attention,” Chagger said in her virtual announcement.

“We can’t pretend systemic racism doesn’t exist in Canada. We’ve also seen how the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and amplified the many systemic inequalities present in our country.”

Projects include the Nova Scotia-based Black Business Initiative, which is getting $151,000 to tackle discriminatory structures in hiring and employment, and an initiative by Legal Aid Ontario, which is receiving $285,000 to improve race-based collection of data on the bail system.

The Canadian Anti-Hate Network is also getting $268,400 to hire four people to help monitor extreme-right groups and report on their activities.

The work of the network has taken on new urgency since its founding two years ago, said one of its board members, Amira Elghawaby, during Chagger’s announcement.

“There are more members and supporters of hate groups and dangerous conspiracy groups than there have been in at least a generation,” she said. “They’re harassing people. They’re killing people, and they need to be stopped, or at least contained.”

She said the money it’s getting from Ottawa, the first for the organization, will help it continue its exposure on social media of far-right activities, and its promotion of multiculturalism. The money will also allow it to actively fight hateful activities, not just research them.

B.C.-based Justice for Girls will get $206,970 to help Indigenous women and girls access justice, education and employment.

The Anti-Racism Action Program received a total of 1,100 applications in late 2019. Around 80 projects will likely involve Black and Indigenous communities.

The Liberal government has said the strategy is its first step in tackling systemic racism. In early July, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked his cabinet to create a “work plan” with concrete actions to fight the problem.

Last month’s speech from the throne outlined in broad strokes the Liberals’ plan. It included new legislation meant to: tackle systemic inequalities in the criminal justice system; do more to combat online hate; and increase economic opportunities for members of marginalized communities.

In a statement on Thursday, Trudeau spokeswoman Ann-Clara Vaillancourt said the government’s plans to tackle racism “will be further outlined in ministers’ mandate letters, which will be release in due course.” She said the government had made addressing systemic racism a “top priority” in the speech.

Chagger did not say when Canadians can expect more details of legislation that would enact those measures.

However, she said community organizations have told her it’s critical they get funding for more local anti-racism projects.

“We will continue ensuring that we work with community in partnership, because it’s instrumental that the decision-making table reflects the diversity of the country, and at minimum, be informed by the lived experiences of Canadians,” she said.

Unlike other anti-racism initiatives the Liberals campaigned on in the 2019 election, the promise to double funding for the anti-racism strategy wasn’t mentioned in the throne speech.

When asked about the election commitment on Thursday, Chagger would only say, “We will continue to build upon our commitments.”

Source: Feds fund 85 anti-racism projects that target economic barriers, online hate

After taking a knee, the next step is being spelled out for Justin Trudeau

Three articles on expectations for the Trudeau government with respect to countering anti-black racism, starting the Campbell Clark of the Globe, followed by former Conservative Senator Don Oliver and Liberal MP Greg Fergus. Clark focusses on RCMP reform, both Oliver and Fergus stress, among other issues, increased Black Canadian representation at senior levels:

When Justin Trudeau joined an anti-racism protest on Friday, taking a knee to express solidarity, it was as though he still didn’t know the next step after kneeling.

He had already spoken, in a press conference earlier that day, about the “disturbing” videos and reports of incidents that surfaced last week. He asserted, in earnest Trudeau-esque tones, that although “we can’t solve all this overnight,” change is needed, and “we need to start today.” Yet he didn’t offer any clear notion of what a first step could be.

Those disturbing reports, though, offered at least one obvious place to start: more transparency.

On Saturday, Chief Allan Adam, who leads the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, held a press conference to present grainy videos of the night in March when, Chief Adam said, he was beaten by RCMP officers when they stopped him and his wife over an expired registration for their car.

Chief Adam’s lawyer, Brian Beresh, called for the suspension of one of the officers involved, but what was notable was the basic call for transparency in the other three things he sought.

He called for the RCMP to release their own, clearer video of the incident, taken from an RCMP dashcam. He called for a full investigation by another police force – not the RCMP. And he called for body cameras to be worn by all RCMP officers.

Independent investigations? Public transparency? Body cams? Yes to all of that. Because it’s 2020.

And stats, too – disaggregated race-based statistics, so Canadians can get a sense of who gets arrested over expired registrations.

One thing on Chief Adam’s list, an outside investigation, is now happening. Alberta’s Serious Incident Response Team, which investigates serious injuries and deaths involving the police, said Saturday afternoon that they would review the allegations. The RCMP had previously said they had reviewed their own video of the incident, and that it didn’t meet the threshold for an outside investigation.

That’s a threshold that cries out for scrutiny: If there is video of police using force with a citizen, someone outside the organization should be looking at it.

Doing those things won’t eliminate racial discrimination in policing, let alone dismantle systemic racism in the country, which doesn’t start or end with the police. Body cams don’t prevent all abuses. They just offer the potential for a record.

But if Mr. Trudeau is looking for a place to start, he might start with the obvious: Disturbing events that came to light only because of bystanders taking video on their phones. More transparency is a basic step.

Mr. Trudeau’s government doesn’t hold all the levers on these things. Local policing is a provincial responsibility, even when it is done by the RCMP, and for much of the population, the local police are municipal or provincial forces.

But he does exert control over the RCMP, including appointing its Commissioner. He can demand standards of accountability for incidents that involve the use of force, and that they be reviewed independently. He can fix the broken complaints system for the RCMP – a small reform is already proposed in legislation before Parliament. He can demand that the collection, and publication, of statistics on arrests and charges be disaggregated by ethnic background.

He has federal spending power. A national initiative to have police wear body cameras can be pushed forward with funding from Ottawa. Especially if he moves forward now. He can press provincial premiers to join him in setting basic national standards of transparency.

That is, for starters, what the symbolism of taking a knee demands. You can judge for yourself if you think Mr. Trudeau is sincere or engaged in political play-acting, or some mix of the two, but you don’t have to look further than Donald Trump to see that the opposite symbolism is bad government. Mr. Trudeau chose to acknowledge systemic racism, rather than to deny it.

There is a lot that necessarily follows from that symbolism. But if Mr. Trudeau can’t find a first step now, he can look to the things that should have been done a long time ago to bring a little more transparency to policing.

Source:   opinion After taking a knee, the next step is being spelled out for Justin Trudeau Subscriber content The government must look to the things that should have been done a long time ago to bring a little more transparency to policing Campbell Clark       

Former Conservative Senator Don Oliver:

Both Canada and the United States are each deeply embroiled in the largest pandemic of anti-Black systemic racism since the height of the Martin Luther King civil rights movement that featured vicious attack dogs, and the brutal beatings, shootings, and murders by whites and by police of unarmed, innocent Black, men, women and children.

Only now, with the internet, technology, and social media, millions and millions of eyes from around the world are watching the United States. People are also watching Canada to see if this middle-ranked world power, once recognized and worshipped for its even-handedness, compassion, understanding and respect for diversity, can rise now to its former exalted position in the world. The world is watching us in the face of the ugly and racist murder of George Floyd in the United States to see if Canada can now give hope and demonstrate once again its earned reputation for understanding and tolerance, and produce a roadmap that all can see and read for overcoming and eliminating anti-Black systemic racism.

Some would argue that there was abject failure of leadership on the part of the Trudeau government to provide more than the vacuous, “we’re in this together,” but it’s clear that words alone will not eliminate anti-Black racism. Many people, including victims of anti-Black racism in Canada, are looking for some concrete resolutions.

The prime minister, however, has clearly stated repeatedly that anti-Black systemic racism exists in Canada today, and on June 2, he said, with humility: “I am not here today to describe a reality I do not know or speak to a pain I have not felt.” That’s probably because he’s white and privileged. He was born into that and it’s not a sin.

The reality, however, for most African Canadians is that their pigmentation defines who they are thought to be by the rest of the world, and it’s usually not positive. The sad reality for many Blacks is that with every step they take and every move they make they are liable to be stopped, suppressed, held back, criticized, ridiculed, and prevented from proceeding for perhaps no reason other than the colour of their skin. Those barriers exist particularly in housing, employment, health care, and criminal justice.

But it cannot be forgotten that there are throughout Canada thousands and thousands of white people who I salute and who do not see colour when they deal with us, and many of them have been on the streets the last nine days walking with us side by side, peacefully demonstrating for an end to systemic racism and protesting the horrible death of George Floyd in Minnesota. Many more have been at their homes praying for an end to Black-based systemic racism in Canada. These are the people of good faith who help make our country strong.

In my case, I started school at the age of five, in a small university Baptist town, the only Black child in the class. For the next 10 years or so, we all had the same school teachers, the same coaches for sports; we basically all went to the same Sunday school and church, played on the same hockey teams and attended all the same parties and socials.

But sometimes when I was engaged in an interesting discussion with teachers or with people around the university, or when I was playing sports with my classmates, I would momentarily forget about the colour of my skin. It didn’t seem that important in the scheme of things; after all, we had so many things in common. Colour was not always the foremost thought in my mind.

For a glancing moment, I had a feeling that there was really no difference and that we were indeed intrinsically alike. I had completely forgotten that pigmentation always denoted a marked physical and psychological difference. It had all the shades of invoking a subtle master/servant relationship from the days of slavery, and that being Black meant being inferior and less worthy than your white counterpart. Pigmentation would always describe who I was as a physical being.

So, how could I ever forget something so fundamental, even for an instant. It was painfully and blatantly clear that I would have to be conscious of my colour at all times and be ready to defend it as well. The colour of my skin is a situational fact that has stayed with me all my life. But even though pigmentation was not something that I thought about every hour of every day, it did help orient my entire life.

When in the middle of something very important and demanding, I would often receive the strange query—“don’t you realize you’re Black”—and it would happen on some of the most unexpected occasions, and I had to be ready. The situation is called racism. That is the constant reality for most Blacks in Canada today. We encounter race hatred, intolerance, discrimination, contempt, and prejudice in virtually everything we become part of in our daily lives.

The prime minister cannot possibly fathom our reality of racism because it defies so many of our senses and it’s just there with disquieting regularity. For instance, imagine you are eminently qualified and Black, with excellent managerial skills and experience, have superior, advanced education, are proficient in three languages, are the proper age, and that you’ve just learned that you’ve been passed over for the eighth time in an executive job competition. What a shock. What else can you do? You know implicitly that racism is present and totally in control of what is happening. But it has defied all your senses. Nothing overt gave you an explanation for the result. It’s something painful and hurtful. You want to cry, to scream out. But you dare not. It’s how systemic racism manifests itself, and that’s the pain and the reality our prime minister cannot possibly ever know and understand.

And it’s just like the anti-Black racism demonstrated by the beatings, shootings, and killings of Black people throughout Canada for which there are thousands of white and Black Canadians protesting and peacefully demonstrating in the streets. Prime Minister Trudeau must understand that anti-Black racism has to stop.

The job now for public policy-makers looking for solutions is to dig deeply into the very core of systemic racism, analyze it, and produce detailed, comprehensive, and professional recommendations for change that must be acted upon by government immediately. Remember, the eyes of the world are watching Canada with hope.

The prime minister can put a lot of easy and meaningful things in place immediately, if there is the will. As I have been saying for decades, some of these helpful things are very, very easy for a prime minister to implement and to make happen quickly.

For instance, one way to start to dispel the sting of anti-Black racism is for eminent and qualified Blacks to be appointed to senior positions on boards, commissions, and Crown corporations. For example, you will recall that, as prime minister, Brian Mulroney appointed Lincoln Alexander as the Queen’s representative of Canada’s largest province; Julius Isaacs was appointed chief justice of the Federal Court of Canada, and I was Speaker Pro Tempore of the Senate of Canada.

There are dozens of great Lincoln Alexanders out there today who could become significant influencers on major government boards and commissions and this would help reduce the impact of anti-Black racism. We desperately need more Black judges appointed to our Superior Courts across the country. We need Black deputy and associate deputy ministers appointed to our senior bureaucracy in Ottawa. We need more Black chiefs of staff in government offices. We need a new federal government Department of Diversity headed by a Black deputy minister. The upper echelons of power in Canada must reflect the diverse faces of Canada. A number of these things can be done by Prime Minister Trudeau with the stroke of his pen, and what a difference it would make for Canada.

In conjunction with these initiatives in boardrooms across the nation, we also need to make policy more effective. We urgently need accurate information: facts and race-based disaggregated data. Prime Minister Trudeau should pick up his pen this week and sign any prerequisite documentation from the Privy Council Office to order the immediate collection of comprehensive data on COVID-19 from every province and territory in Canada. This data should be submitted to Statistics Canada on a daily and weekly basis, possibly retroactively, to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United States now has close to 110,000 reported deaths from COVID-19 and, regretfully, a disproportionately high per cent of those deaths are Blacks and Latinos. In Canada, we have some general information that a disproportionately high percentage of those who have died from COVID-19 are also Black. We know these deaths in both countries involve socio-economic issues such as lack of a nutritious diet, access to the health-care system, employment opportunities, affordable, adequate housing and, most of all, the subtle, all-pervading yet omnipresent anti-Black systemic racism.

To examine and report on these issues, in-depth, I urgently call on Prime Minister Trudeau to appoint in June 2020 a commission of inquiry under the Inquiries Act, chaired by an eminent Black Canadian judge, to examine in detail the above socio-economic issues, call evidence and hear from those impacted by racism in the communities across Canada, and report back to Parliament with specific recommendations in each area designed to eradicate or substantially limit the reach and influence of anti-Black systemic racism in Canada. All aspects of the inquiry must involve in its membership and research a majority of eminent, qualified African Canadian men and women. The inquiry would, as well, receive all the race-based data collected by Statistics Canada, and hopefully provide recommendations to the government before the next wave of COVID-19.

No reasonable Canadian expects this prime minister to fully understand the reality and the 400 years of the pain of anti-Black systemic racism in Canada, but they do expect him to take some positive steps towards its elimination, such as those set out above.

Source: Trudeau must understand anti-Black racism has to stop, and he’s got the power to help stop it

Lastly, current Liberal MP Greg Fergus:

Greg Fergus spent much of last week in video conferences, talking to black Canadians and community leaders. The Liberal MP for Hull-Aylmer and chair of the parliamentary black caucus says many people are “traumatized.”

But, he said, they also know that this moment is an opportunity for other Canadians to “finally see the systemic barriers that are in place here.”

“Everyone says, I’m up and I’m down …  I’m angry and I’m hopeful. It’s an awful mix,” he said in an interview. “And because we have attention on the issue, everybody’s being asked about it. I’m happy to engage with this, but it’s hard to engage with it, because it’s overwhelming.

“We saw those brutal images of racism … and it triggers all those big and little things that every person of colour has been through.”

On Friday, Fergus was beside Justin Trudeau when the prime minister attended the Black Lives Matter rally on Parliament Hill and kneeled along with many others in the crowd, the symbolically powerful gesture that has become a hallmark of the protests and rallies against anti-black racism that have followed the May 25 killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis.

Trudeau’s participation was part of a week that will certainly be remembered as a significant moment in the history of protest against anti-black discrimination. But much now depends on what steps his government takes next.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made an appearance at an anti-racism rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Friday. He was met with chants of “Stand up to Trump!” from the crowd and kneeled for eight minutes and 46 seconds to remember George Floyd. 1:47

“We always said we need to do more. Now we’re seeing why it’s important to do more,” Fergus said. “Racism kills.”

The list of what the Trudeau government could or should do is long. But Fergus said he is proud of what the government did in its first four years — action he believes his fellow black parliamentarians and Liberal staff were part of making happen.

Over its last two budgets, the Trudeau government committed $19 million over five years to develop mental health programs for black Canadians and support for young people, and $25 million over five years for community programming.

Statistics Canada was provided with $6.7 million to create a new Centre for Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics, which is mandated to “increase the disaggregation of various data sets by race, with a particular focus on the experience of black Canadians.” A new anti-racism strategy, including the creation of an anti-racism secretariat in the public service, was given $45 million over three years.

But Celina Caesar-Chevannes, the former Liberal MP who broke with the party last year, wrote this week that the funding committed to black Canadians for mental health was not nearly enough and “certainly [does] not speak to black lives mattering.”

In 2018, the government officially recognized the UN International Decade for People of African Descent and the prime minister publicly acknowledged the existence of “anti-black racism” — the first prime minister, Fergus said, to do so.

But a year later, Fergus also expressed frustration with how little the machinery of government had moved to match the prime minister’s words.

“It’s hard to convince people that there’s a problem,” he said.

Diversifying government’s highest ranks

Fergus has since been appointed parliamentary secretary to Jean-Yves Duclos, the president of the Treasury Board, and he is interested in promoting diversity throughout the upper echelon of the public service.

“I don’t think the public service is any different from Canada in general, in the sense that it’s hard to overcome the systemic barriers. We have an excellent public service that hires [people] in a way that reflects the way Canada looks. Where the public service doesn’t do as well is, as you go up the ranks, it becomes more and more homogeneous,” Fergus said.

In Fergus’s view, this is a textbook example of unconscious bias.

“This is an example of systemic discrimination — there are practices or assumptions or biases at play that end up having these kinds of results. You have to be conscious of these biases, and we have to really challenge the way it is,” he says.

“It doesn’t make sense that there’s been no black deputy ministers — you can’t convince me that there aren’t black people who are competent. But there’s something that went into the calculation over time that that person didn’t make the right fit, or didn’t get that promotion. We can justify any individual decision, but when you aggregate all these decisions, you end up with a biased result.

“Those are the things that we’ve got to take a look at. But it’s hard to do the things which are hard to do. And it’s hard to see bias. People don’t want to admit that’s going on.”

When the Trudeau government promoted Caroline Xavier to associate deputy minister at the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, she became the first black woman to reach that level of the public service. (Duclos’s chief of staff, Marjorie Michel, is also the first black of woman to hold that title in the federal government.)

But diversifying the public service is just one path of change and other areas crying out for government action.

Immigration policy, police reform other points of debate

Caesar-Chevannes laid out a proposed agenda that includes a review of immigration policy, increased government funding and the expunging of criminal records for marijuana possession, a charge that disproportionately punished black Canadians. She also called for the repeal of mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines.

The RCMP and policing reform have emerged as significant points of debate in the weeks and months ahead. The NDP has already called for bans on racial profiling and the practice of “carding,” in which police stop individuals and ask to see ID without any evidence of wrongdoing.

Questions about policing and justice can be politically difficult to navigate — for decades, the incentive for politicians has been to seem “tough” on crime. That tide could be turning, but, regardless, the Trudeau government is unlikely to be excused for failing to deal with these issues.

But combating systemic racism and improving the lives of black Canadians means going well beyond such issues.

Fergus: ‘If there ever was a time to speak, it’s now’

Fergus said there is interest among black community leaders in federal support for black-owned businesses. The federal government could, for instance, provide microcredit and organize a program to provide mentorship from black financial experts. It has also been suggested that federal procurement policy could be used to benefit black-owned companies, similar to how Indigenous businesses have been a specific focus since 1996.

An emphasis on data — to better understand how black Canadians are doing and how public policy affects them — is a common theme across calls for change, including an essay penned last week by Sen. Wanda Thomas Bernard.

“That will be the gift that keeps giving,” Fergus said of better data.

Fergus said his advice to black Canadians and activists is to capitalize on this moment.

“If there was ever a time to speak it’s now. If there was ever a time to get that story out, it’s now,” he said. “We have 15 minutes of people’s attention. Let’s try to make this something that resonates longer and leads to substantive and systemic changes. This is the time.”

What Fergus saw around him on Friday tells him that Canadians are ready for and expecting that change.

“I think Canadians expect us to do more. And looking at the people who were in the crowd — really, it was good for me. It was really good for me to so many non-blacks took part. They were clearly the majority,” he said.

“That is a good feeling. They are awake to this.”

Source: Liberal MP takes stock of government’s action on anti-black racism and says there’s more to do

Scheer says he would continue Liberals’ $45M anti-racism strategy

Unfortunately, behind the paywall but nevertheless interesting.

Of course, if we judge by the previous Conservative government, which drastically reduced the resources dedicated to multiculturalism and anti-racism programming (The Conservative legacy on multiculturalism: more cohesion, less inclusion):

The Liberal government’s $45-million anti-racism strategy isn’t going anywhere under a Scheer government, the Conservative leader says.

Asked by a reporter in Thorold, Ont., on Tuesday whether he supports the anti-racism plan put forward by the Trudeau government this year, and the approach it is taking, Andrew Scheer said he would continue to back such programs.

Source: Scheer says he would continue Liberals’ $45M anti-racism strategy

New office will tackle racism in federal institutions as part of $45M national plan

Too busy at the International Metropolis this week to take a closer look to see whether or not it has the potential to have more impact than the post Durban conference Canadian Action Plan Against Racism (CAPAR) whose only meaningful result was the collection of hate crimes statistics:

The federal government unveiled its first-ever anti-racism strategy in Toronto today, which will see the creation of an office that will oversee efforts to tackle systemic racism and discrimination in federal institutions.

Speaking at a community centre in the city, Heritage and Multiculturalism Minister Pablo Rodriguez unveiled the $45-million, three-year strategy, called “Building a Foundation for Change.”

The strategy’s centrepiece is a $4.6 million anti-racism secretariat that will lead federal efforts in tackling the issue, reporting annually on the federal government’s process — or lack thereof — in addressing racism and discrimination.

The new office will ultimately lead efforts to get federal institutions to identify gaps and co-ordinate initiatives meant to address systemic discrimination, pushing the bureaucracy to better consider the impacts of policies, services and programs on racialized and Indigenous communities.

As well, $5 million will go to community-led digital and civic literacy programming to address online disinformation and hate speech in response to “heightened concerns around online hate.”

The strategy also provides $30 million worth of grant funding for community-based projects, with a focus on improving employment outcomes, public participation, and supporting at-risk youth. The application process will start on Sept. 3.

Another $3.3 million will also go toward a national public education campaign to increase public awareness of the historical roots of racism in Canada and the impact it has had on racialized and religious minority communities, as well as on Indigenous peoples.

The strategy, announced ahead of October’s vote, is being pitched as a “first step” in a longer-term commitment in addressing racism and discrimination in Canada.

“Our government recognizes that we are in a unique position to address racism in our institutions and society. This national anti-racism strategy is an essential first step in building a more inclusive country,” Rodriguez said in a statement.

BACKGROUNDER: Budget 2019: New anti-racism strategy unveiled in budget

Between October 2018 and March 2019, the Department of Canadian Heritage held 22 closed-door consultations across Canada on the creation of a new strategy, as well as hosting an online questionnaire for all Canadians to provide comments.

The strategy’s release today comes after Independent MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes recently said qualified Black Canadians are being passed over for promotions to senior positions within the public service.

As a final act in the House, she tabled a private members’ bill last week that would require the Canadian Human Rights Commission to specifically report annually on federal efforts to promote Black Canadians and other visible minorities to more senior positions within the public service.

Caesar-Chavannes, who is not running for re-election, told the Canadian Press that there has been a “thinning out” of visible minorities at the assistant-deputy-minister level and no Black person has ever been appointed as a federal deputy minister.

A recent survey of nine countries also found Canadian visible minorities are 11 per cent more likely to face discrimination in hiring than their American counterparts.

Researchers at Northwestern University looked at more than 200,000 job applications, and broke down the results by race, to see whether minority candidates with similar qualifications to white ones got as many callbacks. Canada was the third-worst country examined in the study, which also looked at the U.K., Sweden, Germany, France and the U.S.

Today’s strategy also provides working definitions for Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s wording for the latter term. The strategy also includes $6.2 million to improve data collection on race and ethnicity.

In 2018, the Liberal government set aside $19 million as a “first step” towards recognizing the challenges faced by Black Canadians and focus on Black youth and enhancing mental health supports for the Black community.

Meanwhile, the 2019 budget acknowledged “ultra-nationalist” movements have emerged across the world and such groups are “unfairly targeting new Canadians, racialized individuals and religious minorities.”

According to Statistics Canada, police-reported hate crimes motivated by religion, race, or ethnicity, increased by 47 per cent in 2017.

Source: New office will tackle racism in federal institutions as part of $45M national plan