New clinic by Au­gust

BLAC meant to re­place African Cana­dian Le­gal Clinic

StarMetro Toronto - - Toronto - May War­ren

Months after pulling its fund­ing from the African Cana­dian Le­gal Clinic, Le­gal Aid On­tario has an­nounced a new clinic serv­ing the needs of Black Cana­di­ans will be in place by Au­gust.

The non-profit Black Le­gal Ac­tion Cen­tre (BLAC) will pro­vide ser­vices in­clud­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion, le­gal ad­vice and public ed­u­ca­tion, in ad­di­tion to fight­ing test cases, ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease posted Wed­nes­day.

In Au­gust, a com­mit­tee of Le­gal Aid’s board of di­rec­tors pulled fund­ing for the African Cana­dian Le­gal Clinic amid al­le­ga­tions of fi­nan­cial mis­man­age­ment, in­clud­ing that ex­ec­u­tive director Mar­garet Par­sons charged a di­a­mond ring to a com­pany credit card in 2007 and used money from undis­closed staff va­can­cies to pay out $170,000 in bonuses, in­clud­ing $121,000 to her­self.

In a pre­vi­ous in­ter­view with Metro, Par­sons de­nied any wrong­do­ing and said no public funds were ever mis­used. She did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment Wed­nes­day.

Le­gal Aid had pro­vided 35 per cent of the clinic’s an­nual in­come.

The in­terim board of the new clinic is made up of sev­eral prom­i­nent mem­bers of the Black com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing Black Lives Mat­ter co-founder Sandy Hud­son and Zanana Akande, the first Black woman elected to the On­tario leg­is­la­ture.

Fel­low in­terim board mem­ber Ri­naldo Wal­cott, a well-known Black aca­demic, said there’ll be public con­sul­ta­tions over the next few months to hear more about what the clinic should do.

As they be­gin to “put the pieces into place,” they want to set up a struc­ture with “mul­ti­ple lev­els of au­tho­riza­tion” to avoid fi­nan­cial pit­falls and en­sure the new or­ga­ni­za­tion is ac­count­able for public funds, Wal­cott said.

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