Ontario government spending $1.6M to fight racism, supporting community-based anti-hate initiatives

Small change, more symbolic than substantive:

Ontario is investing $1.6 million over two years to fight racism and hate in the province.

The money will support community-based anti-racism and anti-hate initiatives, focusing on anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia.

“Racism and hate will not be tolerated and our government is doing everything it can to protect people from being victimized because of their race or religious beliefs,” Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said in a statement.

“This new grant program will be developed collaboratively with community partners across Ontario to ensure it leads to the most effective solutions in the fight against racism and hate in our province. These much-needed solutions cannot come from government alone.”

Evan Balgord, the executive director at the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, said in an interview that allocating the funds from the new Anti-Racism and Anti-Hate Grant has to be meaningful.

“We see grants disproportionately go towards research projects or small-scale education programs or art programs,” said Balgord.

“We’re just not at the point anymore where we need a whole bunch more research on it. We need tangible action, and governments should be prioritizing grants that promise to take tangible, measurable actions against hate speech, hate crimes, and groups that promote organized hate in Canada.”

A press release said beginning in fall 2020, Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate (ARD) will collaborate with community groups to learn about individual experiences and local needs to form the grant. The ARD was established in 2016. It works to eliminate systemic racism in government policies, decisions, and programs and advance racial equity for Black, Indigenous, and racialized people.

The grant will focus on increasing public awareness of the impact of systemic racism and hate. It supports Ontario’s Anti-Racism Strategy to fight and mitigate systemic racism in government decision making, programs, and services.

Balgord said people should be concerned about racism and hatred in Canada.

“People feel very emboldened to be racist and spread death threats,” he said. “That’s something we need to bring social accountability back to.”

Source: Ontario government spending $1.6M to fight racism, supporting community-based anti-hate initiatives

Canadian Heritage gives bureaucrats more power over arts funding

This is a significant change with past practice and it will be interesting to see if that applies to all G&C programs at Canadian Heritage, including multiculturalism (readers let me know!).

Ministerial sign-off bedevilled the Multiculturalism Program, as then Minister Kenney and his staff would refuse to sign-off on projects that had been approved by officials. However inconvenient for officials and organizations, it was in retrospect understandable and necessary given the inertia and indeed resistance among officials (see Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism chapter 2):

Having the final sign-off on all cheques has long been emblematic of the minister’s absolute power over cultural grants and contributions at Canadian Heritage.

But Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly has decided to forfeit that power and allow her bureaucrats to approve 90 per cent of the 8,000 grants and contributions that the department awards each year.

In addition, Ms. Joly has decided to allow cultural groups to sign more multiyear agreements with Canadian Heritage, freeing them up from the obligation to send in an application every year for ministerial approval.

Ms. Joly said the measures will limit political considerations in the awarding of funding, such as favouring areas that voted for the government in power.

“There was often a lot of discretion built into our various programs, and that sometimes allowed for a more partisan approach,” Ms. Joly said at an event with reporters and representatives of cultural groups on Wednesday. “It’s not normal for some ridings not to receive any funding, when groups have a right to that money. It’s normal for us to support arts groups across the country.”

Historically, Ms. Joly said, ministers and their political staff rejected only about 2 per cent of the grants and contributions that had been approved by the bureaucracy. Still, she said partisan officials should not have the right to overturn the decisions of bureaucrats who operate in the same regions as the recipients and have greater knowledge of local needs and priorities.

Under the new system, Ms. Joly will continue to sign off on all funding awarded as part of next year’s celebrations of Canada’s 150th anniversary, and all deals worth more than $75,000, which account for about 10 per cent of the department’s annual output.

Source: Canadian Heritage gives bureaucrats more power over arts funding – The Globe and Mail