Ford says Canada doesn’t have same ‘systemic, deep roots’ of racism as U.S.

In response to the unrest and protests in the U.S., Premier Ford says Canada doesn't have the “systemic, deep roots'' of racism that our southern neighbour does. Cynthia Mulligan speaks to an advocate who says that belief is wrong on many levels.

By The Canadian Press and News Staff

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says Canada doesn’t have the “systemic, deep roots” of racism that the United States does.

Ford was asked today to comment on the  protests in cities across the U.S. that were sparked by the death of a black man at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis.

Ford, who spent a lot of time in the U.S. for his family’s label business, said the difference between the two countries is that in Canada, people for the most part get along, working and shopping together.

He says comparing Canada and the U.S. is like “night and day,” and he hopes America can straighten out its problems. Ford says he doesn’t have time to watch the news these days, but believes in peaceful protest, without getting “anarchy” involved.

The premier says he has zero tolerance for racism and has always stood up for the black community.

Macleans Contributing Editor and activist Andray Domise said he sees a very different reality when asked about the Premier’s stance on racism in Canada.

Domise said, “Do we have anti-Black police violence? Yes, we do. Do we have disparities in health, education and family wealth outcomes? Yes, we do. Do we have problems with people feeling like they can’t go shop at a mall, can’t walk down the street or sit in their cars and read? Do we have problems like that for Black folk in Canada? Yes, we absolutely do. So what is he talking about?”

“When Premier Ford says something like we don’t have the same kinds of systemic racism. Well, we spent literally years lobbying the Ontario government, and when I say we, I mean Black communities in Ontario, for an anti-racism directory,” added Domise. “Then the Ford government, one of their first acts, was to do a couple of things. One, pretty much to eradicate police reform and two, defund the anti-racism directorate budget down to like practically nothing, peanuts.”

A spokesperson for Premier Ford said they didn’t actually make any cuts to the anti-racism directorate budget, but $200,000 the previous year that wasn’t spent was carried over.

Domise also commented on the lack of collection of race-based data in the province despite concerns the coronavirus pandemic is disproportionately affecting minority and low-income communities.  

“Do we answer questions like what are the COVID contraction and death rates looking like? We have to fight for that information to be collected, if not released. Why? Because they don’t want to know the answers to those questions.”

The province has granted some health units permission to begin collecting race-based data voluntarily and some have begun doing so, but critics argue it’s not enough.

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