Premier Ford decries 'systemic racism'

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Systemic racism exists in Ontario and Canada, Premier Doug Ford says.

His statement was made in the Ontario legislature Wednesday in response to NDP Leader Andrea Horwath’s demand that he acknowledge the hundreds of thousands of Ontarians who face racial discrimination every day and order the collection of race-based health data.

“Of course there’s systemic racism in Ontario. There’s systemic racism across this country. I know it exists,” Ford said. “What I don’t know is the hardships faced by those communities, and a lot of us in this chamber do not know the hardships within those communities. I don’t have those lived experiences.”

Ford said his government won’t stand for racism and will work with other political parties to “stamp this out.”

NDP MPP Gurratan Singh said some Canadians, including Ford, still believe that the situation here is different than in the United States.

“To those folks, to the premier, I say Canada, Ontario, this very House that we stand in here today, was built upon systemic racism,” Singh said in the Ontario Legislature. “It is built upon a history of the oppression of black and brown people, of the enslavement of black people, of the genocide of Indigenous people.”

In a joint letter to the premier dated Wednesday, Liberal MPPs Michael Coteau and Mitzie Hunter said Ford’s words of support for the black community are not concrete actions.

“The need to fight systemic racism is about more than past statements or personal good works,” the MPPs say. “It is about reforming and changing the ways in which our society is set up in order that Black, Indigenous and other people of colour are free to live their lives and pursue their livelihoods.”

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Coteau and Hunter said the Ford government cut critical programing to fight racism and support Black youth, and called on the Premier to restore full funding and scope to the Anti-Racism Directorate and the Black Youth Action Plan.

Funding cuts also need to be reversed for Legal Aid and OSAP, the post-secondary student loan program, the MPPs said.

aartuso@postmedia.com

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