MP says feds stall promise to act on anti-black racism one year after Trudeau pledge

Money was in the 2018 budget so it appears the issue is more with respect to implementation. Given the previous hollowing out of the multiculturalism program and the time needed to rebuild capacity, not that surprising expect perhaps to MPs and stakeholders:

Federal efforts to address systemic issues affecting black Canadians appear to have stalled one year after the prime minister made it an issue, says the head of Parliament’s black caucus as he put words to simmering frustrations with the slow pace of change.

It was a year ago that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for action to ensure equal opportunity and treatment for the more than one million black Canadians to address the “very real and unique challenges that black Canadians face,” including anti-black racism.

The cross-party caucus chairman, Greg Fergus, a Liberal MP from Quebec, described Sunday how the words were the culmination of a long lobbying effort that included politicians from different parties, political assistants and grassroots organizations.

Fergus said he thought the speech would mark a change in how the federal government interacted with black communities.

Instead, he said, the bureaucracy, which moves the machinery of government, doesn’t seem to have responded.

“I thought once you get the prime minister saying it, the whole system responds. But I have discovered how mistaken I was,” Fergus said during a panel discussion at a national summit Sunday.

“If there is not buy-in from the public service — if the public service, the machinery of government is not reflective of the diversity of the country, and doesn’t see that the black community is an important community that you want to deal with — it’s like Astroturf … it exists on the top but there are no roots.”

The two-day National Black Canadians Summit, which was the second one organized by former governor general Michaelle Jean’s foundation, kicked off Saturday.

The first summit laid out areas where the federal government needed to prioritize for work or strengthen efforts.

This time around, the aim is to connect different groups to mobilize the voices of the 1.2 million black Canadians to effectively lobby politicians as the country lurches towards a federal election in the fall.

Fergus’s comments put into focus frustrations voiced during the summit about federal efforts under the banner of the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent, which requires governments to address systemic barriers in laws, services and housing, for instance, for black communities.

Fergus suggested his experience over the last year shows that lobbying isn’t a one-time event, but a constant push.

The Liberals have promised $19 million over five years for mental health and youth programs for black communities, and $23 million more over two years that included money for a broader anti-racism strategy, as part of its efforts.

The election is a chance to amplify the voices of black Canadians, said Richard Picart from the Federation of Black Canadians.

“This community, my community, is becoming more active politically,” he said.

“It’s becoming more difficult to ignore the black elephant in the room.”

A lobby day is planned for Monday where dozens of representatives attending the summit will meet with cabinet ministers and MPs to put forward specific asks and put black voices into the political conversation.

“The message is nothing can happen without us. We’re in. We are in and we need to be considered,” Jean said.

“We’re saying here we are and you need to listen to what we are bringing to the conversation.”

The federal government has been able to hire more blacks into the public service, but once in, they don’t seem to rise to the upper ranks, said Liza Daniel, a founding member of the Federal Black Employees Caucus.

She said the employees caucus is finalizing a report about a gathering in Ottawa last month, where participants talked about ways to improve the system for black civil servants.

Source: MP says feds stall promise to act on anti-black racism one year after Trudeau pledge

Two MPs are locked in a Twitter brawl over race and identity. Time to talk? | CBC News

Couldn’t agree more with Aaron Wherry (have argued this earlier myself: Maxime Bernier rejects Liberal MP’s apology over ‘check your privilege’ Twitter row):

For months now, two MPs — Liberal Celina Caesar-Chavannes and Conservative Maxime Bernier — have been locked in a very public Twitter battle over identity politics.

Liberal MP Greg Fergus thinks they should actually talk to each other. Face to face.

“It sounds really personal now. And they do work about five metres away from each other,” Fergus said in an interview earlier this week.

An actual conversation might not resolve their dispute. It probably wouldn’t do much to achieve social justice, or to settle the thorny questions about race, culture and identity the two MPs been hashing out in increments of 280 characters or less. But it probably wouldn’t hurt.

On Saturday, Bernier tweeted that Caesar-Chavannes, the Liberal MP for Whitby, believes “the world revolves around” her “skin colour.” That was in response to Caesar-Chavannes chiding him in an interview with the Globe and Mail.

Their mutual animus dates to March, when Bernier criticized the Liberal government’s promotion of funding for “racialized Canadians” and said he thought the goal of anti-racism policy was to create a “colour-blind” society.

Caesar-Chavannes fired back, suggesting Bernier “do some research … as to why stating colour blindness as a defence actually contributes to racism.”

“Please check your privilege and be quiet,” she added — provoking Bernier to invoke “free speech.”

Caesar-Chavannes subsequently apologized and suggested that they get together to chat. Bernier dismissed the idea.

Bernier rejects Liberal MP’s apology over identity politics flareup on Twitter
“We should certainly do everything possible to redress injustices and give everyone equal opportunities to flourish. And we should recognize that Canada is big enough to contain many identities. As a francophone Quebecer, I can understand this,” he wrote.

“But that doesn’t mean the gov’t officially defining us on the basis of ‘intersectional race, gender and sexual identities’ and granting different rights and privileges accordingly. This only creates more division and injustice and will balkanise our society.”

The Jordan Peterson factor

It’s not clear which “rights” and “privileges” Bernier thinks are being granted in this instance. But he is correct to note that, as a francophone Quebecer, he has some special insight into this topic.

As a minister in Stephen Harper’s cabinet, he supported a motion declaring that “the Quebecois form a nation within a united Canada.” In 2015, he supported an NDP proposal that required officers of Parliament to be bilingual.

But this also is not the first time Bernier has recoiled from an attempt by the Liberal government to deal with a matter of social justice.

As a candidate for the Conservative leadership in 2017, he recanted his previous support for Bill C-16, which extended existing anti-discrimination protections to cover “gender identity” and “gender expression.”

Bernier said Jordan Peterson — the University of Toronto professor lionized by many on the political right as a courageous campaigner against the excesses of identity politics — had convinced him that C-16 would infringe on the right to free speech.

Asked by the Toronto Sun in March to comment on the latest Liberal budget — which made extensive use of gender-based analysis — Peterson lamented the Trudeau government’s approach.

“I think the identity politics is absolutely catastrophic … We will see a rise in racial tension and tension between the genders as a consequence of this,” he said. “It’s already happening. We’re introducing problems into a country.”

It’s not clear if Bernier objects to what the Liberal government is doing — or just to the words it uses to describe what it is doing.

But identity politics — focusing on the concerns and challenges faced by specific groups within the larger society — has also been critiqued by the American left in the wake of Donald Trump’s election — the theory being that the Democratic party has alienated white voters in explicitly addressing the particular interests of non-white voters.

For that matter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau referenced identity politics himself when he encouraged students at New York University to avoid falling into political or social tribalism.

Fergus’s call for a conversation has something in common with both the American critique and Trudeau’s call to voters to bridge the gap between political solitudes.

An ‘inclusive’ fight against injustice

“As we’re dealing with this issue … you have to make sure that you do it in a way that’s very inclusive,” Fergus said. “That people feel that they’re a part of the solution. The last thing I want people to do is to feel as if I’m pointing the finger at them saying that they are not part of the solution or that they’re part of the problem.”

That approach has its limits. (Some people actually are part of the problem.)

But people of goodwill who find themselves in such conversations might feel as if they are being personally accused. So it’s tempting to think that an actual, in-person conversation might do what an exchange of tweets cannot.

Maybe Bernier and Caesar-Chavannes can never convince each other. But for those calling for change — among them the representatives of a Liberal government that continues to push on issues like gender equality, diversity and systemic racism — there’s something to be said for bringing as many people along with you as possible.

“If you’re part of the groups that have been discriminated against systemically over time, how would you feel? You would want these issues to be dealt with because it’s been going on for such a long time and there’s nothing more frustrating than to feel that the cards are stacked against you,” Fergus said.

“But it’s also very important for people who are not part of those groups to understand what that feeling is like …

“We have to figure out a way to get along and understand each other. That’s going to be an imperfect and messy process, but we need to talk. And if people are uncomfortable with me talking about it, I want to know why they are really uncomfortable with it and let’s have that conversation.”

Dealing with a problem is better than pretending it doesn’t exist. Talking is better than not talking — even if Bernier feels Liberals are sowing division, and progressives conclude that achieving a just society is more important than his feelings.

via Two MPs are locked in a Twitter brawl over race and identity. Time to talk? | CBC News