Canada should ad­mit anti-black racism and work to elect black MPs, PM says

Ottawa Citizen - - CITY -

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau says it’s time Cana­di­ans ac­knowl­edged that racism and un­con­scious bias against black peo­ple ex­ist in this coun­try.

And he says it’s time to take ac­tion to en­sure equal op­por­tu­nity and treat­ment of black Cana­di­ans, in­clud­ing do­ing more to re­cruit and elect black mem­bers of Par­lia­ment.

Trudeau made the com­ments in a short speech at a re­cep­tion mark­ing Black His­tory Month.

Two weeks ago, Trudeau an­nounced that Canada is of­fi­cially rec­og­niz­ing the United Na­tions’ In­ter­na­tional Decade for Peo­ple of African De­scent, which em­pha­sizes the need for re­search and data col­lec­tion to bet­ter un­der­stand the chal­lenges fac­ing the black com­mu­ni­ties around the globe.

Trudeau says ad­vo­cacy groups for black Cana­di­ans have com­plained about the over-rep­re­sen­ta­tion of black in­di­vid­u­als in pris­ons and about in­suf­fi­cient sup­port for those with men­tal health is­sues.

And he says his gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to work­ing with the black com­mu­nity to make progress on those and other chal­lenges fac­ing black Cana­di­ans.

“It’s time we rec­og­nize that an­tiblack racism and un­con­scious bias does ex­ist,” Trudeau said.

“It’s time we hear — and be­lieve — the sto­ries of men and women who have been judged by the colour of their skin. It’s time we take ac­tion to en­sure equal op­por­tu­nity and equal treat­ment of black Cana­di­ans in our schools and our places of work.”

More­over, he said it’s time the House of Com­mons — “the heart of our democ­racy” — looked more like the com­po­si­tion of Canadian so­ci­ety, with more black MPs.

“For too many peo­ple, anti-black racism, dis­crim­i­na­tion and in­equal­ity are part of their daily lives. This is un­ac­cept­able. Canada can and must do bet­ter,” Trudeau said.

It’s time we hear — and be­lieve — the sto­ries of men and women who have been judged by the colour of their skin.

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