Ontario election 2022: How will the provincial political parties address racism and hate?

With an increase in acts of racism and hatred toward racialized, Indigenous and LGBTQ2S+ communities, Nick Westoll takes a look at what the Ontario political parties are committing to do in response as part of the 2022 election campaign.

As residents of Buffalo, N.Y., and those from beyond struggle to come to terms with a shooting that left 10 people dead at a Tops grocery store, acts of hate haven’t been restricted to south of the Canada-U.S. border.

In Ontario, racialized communities have been increasingly targeted in recent years.

London, Ont., Imam Abd Alfatah Twakkal spoke with CityNews in 2021 after four members of the Afzaal family died after being run over by a truck. Officers alleged they were targeted because they were Muslim. The suspect, in that case, is awaiting trial.

“Every single human being has the right to live with a sense of safety and security. That’s a fundamental human right,” he said at the time while encouraging people to call out hate.

Ryan Chan, a project lead with the Chinese Canadian National Council for Justice, recently talked about how members of East Asian communities have been victims of hate crimes — especially during the pandemic.

“The collective effect of verbal abuse, spitting, coughing has on our community is very violent in nature,” he said.

RELATED: What the Ontario parties are pitching on the campaign trail

Recent Toronto police data showed a large spike in anti-Asian racism as well as a rise in anti-Black and anti-Semitic threats, assaults and vandalism. Advocates said there’s also an underreporting of incidents.

Velma Morgan, the chair of Operation Black Vote Canada, encouraged residents to take a close look at the platforms put forward by the parties during the 2022 Ontario election campaign.

“Look to see what each political party is going to be doing as it relates to racism, as it relates to anti-Black racism, as it relates to hate crimes, as it relates to us being able to live in a society where we’re not threatened, where we feel inclusive,” she said, adding more diverse voices need to be in the legislature.

“It’s important to have diverse lived experiences at any decision-making table. We know that it provides better outcomes for everybody. Not only those who represent racialized communities, but for everybody in general.”

On Sunday, CityNews contacted Ontario’s four major political parties that had MPPs elected during the 2018 provincial election to ask about commitments relating to racism, equity and inclusion.

CityNews asked specifically what is in each party’s 2022 platform to address those issues as well as what would be done to deal who are motivated by hatred after June 2, what specific outcomes the party is looking to achieve by the end of the upcoming term of office, how will the party ensure the cabinet reflects Ontario’s diversity and what the party did to boost the diversity of candidates running in the 2022 Ontario election.

Responses from the parties

Here are the verbatim responses CityNews received from the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, the Ontario NDP, the Ontario Liberal Party and the Green Party of Ontario.

Ontario PC Party

“We’re tremendously proud of the full slate of incredible candidates we’re running this campaign. Should Doug Ford and the Ontario PCs win a renewed mandate, our caucus and cabinet table will be reflective of Ontarians from every corner of the province and walk of life.

Doug Ford and the Ontario PCs created and then doubled the culturally responsive, trauma-informed Anti-Racism Anti-Hate Grant program to $3.2 million. We introduced a new Racialized and Indigenous Support for Entrepreneurs (RAISE) grant that will provide $5 million in support for women entrepreneurs and Indigenous, Black and other racialized people. We said yes to increasing the Safer and Vital Communities Grant from $1.7 million to $2.6 million, and to $25 million to help faith-based and cultural organizations enhance security against to hate-motivated violence.

Doug Ford and the Ontario PCs said yes to investing $267.6 million through the Community Safety and Policing Grant program in 146 public safety initiatives focusing on priorities including fighting hate-motivated crime, and we said yes to funding the Hate Crime and Extremism Investigative Team.

Doug Ford and the Ontario PCs are getting it done by investing in training, capacity development, and great jobs. We are building an Ontario in which Indigenous, racialized, and all Ontarians can overcome barriers and share in our province’s growing prosperity.”

Ontario NDP

“Saturday’s horrific hateful attack in Buffalo reflects a disturbing increase in organized white supremacist hate, along with a rising tide of Islamophobia, antisemitism, anti-Black racism, anti-Asian racism, and anti-Indigenous racism. These problems are interconnected, and Ontario is far from immune to this type of violence. There has been a significant rise in reported hate crimes, including the murder of Our London Family in a cowardly act of Islamophobic terrorism.

No one in Ontario should have to face or fear hate, violence and harassment because of the colour of their skin, their faith, their gender, or their sexual orientation. Andrea Horwath and the NDP believe in concrete action and systemic change to tackle systemic racism and ensure the safety of our community. An NDP government would act urgently to tackle racism and hate, and to make our communities more equitable and inclusive, including:

• Immediately passing the Our London Family Act to urgently fight hate and dismantle white supremacist groups in Ontario
• The creation of an Anti-Racism strategy for the province, informed by race-based data collection across all ministries
• Designating a Minister responsible for Anti-Racism and properly funding and expanding the Anti-Racism Directorate (ARD) into a fully functioning government Secretariat
• An Ontario Anti-Racism Advisory Council — built to last from community, monitoring progress and reporting no matter who is in power
• Establishing a true government-to-government relationship with First Nations, committing to honour the treaties and establishing the Treaty Commission of Ontario to help us do it, and implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
• Launching a 2SLGBTQIA+ Inclusion Action Plan, so government services like health care, education, and long-term care are inclusive of and welcoming to 2SLGBTQIA+ Ontarians. We will consult broadly with members of these communities, following the “nothing about us, without us” approach

Every Ontarian deserves to feel safe, welcome and at home in the province we all share. They also deserve to have a government that represents them, and advocates for their interests at Queen’s Park. That’s why the Ontario NDP established the first ever Black Caucus in Ontario history. In this election, Andrea Horwath and the NDP have nominated 124 candidates who are as diverse as the province they’re about to represent. The NDP candidate team includes:

• Women and non-binary people: 68 (55 per cent)
• People with disabilities: 9 (7 per cent)
• Racialized candidates: 41 (33 per cent)
• People of colour: 32 (26 per cent)
• Black candidates: 10 (8 per cent)
• Indigenous candidates: 4 (3 per cent)
• Francophone candidates: 5 (4 per cent)
• Youth candidates: 7 (6 per cent)
• 2SLGBTQIA+ candidates: 15 (12 per cent)

Overall, 80% of all NDP candidates belong to one or more equity-deserving group. That is a result of a concerted effort to identify and support candidates from all backgrounds, to ensure that Queen’s Park looks like Ontario, including specific supports and fundraising efforts to empower equity-deserving folks to run and win, like our BIPOC Victory Fund.”

Ontario Liberal Party

“We have an incredible team that is reflective of Ontario – more than half are women, and 41 – or 33% – identify as BIPOC. Our candidates come from a wide range of backgrounds, including teachers, doctors, nurses, and community leaders—people who stepped up and put their names on the ballot so they could help make our province a better, fairer place for everyone. If we are elected on June 2, we will have a cabinet that is strong, diverse and fully representative of all communities within our province.

We strongly believe that hate and intolerance have no place in Ontario. As part of our platform – “A place to grow” – we have a comprehensive plan to combat racism and protect victims of hate and intolerance. As an initial step, we would appoint a stand-alone Minister who would be responsible for reversing the Ford Conservatives’ cuts to anti-racism programs and for strengthening the processes for responding to complaints about racism in public schools, health and child welfare systems.

As the number of hate crimes rose during the pandemic – especially toward Asian, Black, Jewish and Muslim Ontarians – we know we have to put more safeguards in place. If elected, an Ontario Liberal government will improve the investigation of hate crimes with enhanced Crown Attorney units dedicated to advising police and prosecuting hate crimes. We’ll also extend the limitation period for putting forward human rights complaints from one to five years and we will make it an offense – punishable by major fines – to be engaging in acts of criminal intimidation within 50 metres of churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, gurudwaras and other faith institutions. We’ll provide new supports for students and all Ontarians to learn about the painful truth of the Holocaust and prevent the harmful spread of its denial. In addition, we would pass the Our London Family Act to address Islamophobia and create new tools and strategies to combat all forms of racism.

To address anti-Black racism specifically, we have committed to refreshing Ontario’s 2017 Anti-Black Racism Strategy. In education, an Ontario Liberal government would ensure that Black history, literature and the contributions of Black Canadians are featured in the yearlong curriculum and we will end streaming in schools which can segregate classrooms. We’ll also provide $5 million to Black historical sites and community centres and $10 million in grants to help support Black entrepreneurs and small businesses. To make sure everyone is getting the same quality of care, we’ll develop and mandate health equity standards to ensure diverse communities are being treated fairly in health care – including by having hospitals and long-term care homes collect and report on race-based data and incidents of racism. We’ll also find ways to ensure culturally competent treatments and services are made available to more Ontarians.

This plan was developed through the largest platform consultation in our party’s history: 25 open forums, 500 consultation meetings and over 28,000 participants. As part of our platform development process, we actively sought out those who have been historically left out of Ontario’s corridors of power. We held town hall meetings to hear directly from underrepresented and disadvantaged communities and reviewed and evaluated every idea put forward with an equity lens in mind.”

Green Party of Ontario

“Inequity has many faces. It comes in the form of unconscious bias and overt racism, gender based gaps in pay and opportunity, and neglect of those that must deal with physical and neurodiverse challenges

Ontario Greens are committed to building a more accessible and equitable Ontario. We have a lot of work ahead of us if we want to create a common future that is fair, just and caring. Just like our diverse slate of candidates (Over 2/3 come from equity-deserving communities. 56% are women or non-binary. 25% are are from a racial or ethnic minority) we’ll ensure our cabinet is representative of the voices from across the province.

Specific policies:

• Provide cultural responsiveness training for all healthcare professionals across our system that is trauma-informed and rooted in equity and anti-racism.
• Pass the Our London Family Act to change the way we address Islamophobia in Ontario
• Fully fund the Anti-Racism Directorate, reversing the recent cuts
• Require the Ontario Public Service to commit to eliminate racism and discrimination, conduct random external audits, data collection and reporting, and establish a safe harassment and discrimination reporting system for staff
• Address the overrepresentation of Black children in provincial care by the development of frameworks to provide culturally appropriate services to Black children, youth and families. Identify and address existing standards and structures that continue to harm Black families.
• Provide annual reports on the number and proportion of Black and Indigenous children who are in care, and establish an independent office to investigate claims of unfair treatment by case workers called in to assess a child’s circumstances.
• Require that public corporations’ boards and executive level positions have an adequate proportion of women represented, with a goal to achieve gender parity.
• Support survivors of gender-based violence by increasing funding for Sexual Assault Centres, emergency shelters, transitional housing, and legal supports.
• Create a comprehensive strategy to ensure equitable, inclusive and affirming access to care and treatment for 2SLGBTQIA+ communities within our healthcare system and long-term care.
• Mandate standards to have safe, accessible, all-gender washrooms in all public spaces in Ontario.
• Double Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) rates as a first step to implementing a Basic Income, and tie future increases to inflation.
• Ban the practice of carding and delete existing data that has been collected from carding in the past.
• Implement UNDRIP to ensure equity for Indigenous peoples.
• Work with the federal government to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
• Implement the Pay Transparency Act”

With files from Mark McAllister and Adrian Ghobrial

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today