Canada has historically viewed itself as a model of multiculturalism and inclusion. But the reality is we have a long way to go to truly address the systemic racism that permeates our society.
The past 18 months have exposed many social and economic inequities experienced by Indigenous, Black, Asian, and other racialized communities across the country. The next federal government will have to urgently tackle systemic racism in our workplaces, criminal justice system, immigration, health care and education systems, and other institutions. We need to see progress that is rooted in putting people first.
During the pandemic, we’ve seen a disturbing rise in violent verbal and physical attacks and hate crimes against Asians throughout Canada. Muslim communities have repeatedly been targeted, resulting in the vandalism of mosques, and the murders of four Muslim people in Ontario earlier this year. And the Black community continues to face racism in policing, health care, education, and career opportunities with the federal government’s systemic practice of Black employee exclusion.
Additionally, not nearly enough progress has been made toward reconciliation and relationship building between Indigenous peoples and all Canadians. Indigenous peoples are being killed by police at an alarming rate, the clean drinking water crisis on reserves remains unresolved, food insecurity is a perpetual problem for Indigenous communities in the North, and six years after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued its 94 Calls to Action, only 14 are complete.
What does an anti-racist government look like?
Indigenous, Black, Asian, and other racialized communities deserve justice, equity and equality following generations of systemic racism. An anti-racist government would prioritize correcting the many injustices and advance reconciliation with Indigenous communities.
A stronger and more inclusive Canada is only possible with a concrete anti-racism action plan that protects the rights of Black, Asian, and other racialized people and addresses systemic racism. And Indigenous communities deserve a firm commitment to a fully funded action plan for the urgent implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s remaining Calls to Action.
Conservatives’ inaction and silence speak for itself
The Conservatives made no mention of racism in their 2019 platform, and their 2021 platform under Erin O’Toole is no different. In fact, O’Toole refused to acknowledge the existence of systemic racism in Canada.
The Conservatives’ record on Indigenous issues and human rights further proves they won’t take the necessary steps to correct long-standing injustices faced by Indigenous, Black, Asian, and other racialized communities in Canada.
Under Stephen Harper, the Conservative Party did nothing for Indigenous peoples, other than issue an empty apology about residential schools, and refused to take any concrete steps towards reconciliation. Harper’s Conservatives also refused to call an inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls when they had the chance.
Following in Harper’s footsteps, O’Toole’s indifference towards Indigenous peoples was obvious when he protested calls to mark a more sombre July 1 in recognition of the discoveries of hundreds of unmarked graves of Indigenous children at former residential school sites across the country.
When others speak out against racist words and actions, Conservatives are silent.