The Morning Brief – 06.02.20

By Bruce Carson


Racism and Discrimination.

Not the First Time this has been discussed by Prime Minister Trudeau.

Will there be an Action Plan?

It is just over a week since an unarmed Black Man, George Floyd, was killed by asphyxiation at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. The officer is now in custody facing third degree murder charges. His three police partners are presently under investigation for their part in Floyd’s death and it would come as no surprise if they were in custody by the end of the week.

“I can’t breathe,” perhaps the last words uttered by Mr. Floyd have become the rallying cry for those protesting his death, calling for justice and racial equality in the United States.

Some of us are old enough to have seen this movie play out many times before going back to the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s. Except this is not a movie, it is real life, now playing out once again on our television screens.

It has gone from the days of school and other forms of integration during the days of Martin Luther King Jr. through the Civil Rights Act championed by President Kennedy and enacted under President Johnson to where we are now.

While integration in some forms has occurred, racial minorities in the United States continue the struggle and George Floyd is only the most recent example of a casualty of that struggle for fairness and equality.

Mr. Floyd’s death at the hands of the Minneapolis police provides another flash point in that struggle and furnishes for Canadians and Americans a reminder of how far we have to travel to get to Martin Luther King Jr.’s mountain top, a mountain which straddles the Canada-U.S. border.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Trudeau started his daily media briefing, with a statement that rightly should have been delivered in the House of Commons. He said “for far too many Canadians, the images and stories coming out of the U.S. are far too familiar. As a country we can’t pretend that racism doesn’t exist here; anti-black racism is real, unconscious bias is real, and systemic discrimination is real and they happen here in Canada.”

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh eloquently spoke about the racism he endured growing up and Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer condemned racism as having no place in our society or in our police forces.

They are right and for Mr. Trudeau he was again right when he uttered basically the same words as yesterday during the recent election campaign when it was discovered he had engaged in wearing Blackface on so many occasions, he couldn’t remember them all. The call then as it should be now was for an action plan to confront and address racism in Canadian society.

While Canada is a welcoming, diverse country which prides itself on multiculturalism-it would be dishonest not to acknowledge its shortcomings.

For years retired Conservative Senator Don Oliver QC, a Black Nova Scotian argued that the senior ranks of Canada’s public service must include minorities, reflecting the changing fabric of Canadian society and the reality of Canada in the twenty first century. He continues that fight to this day dealing with the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on minorities.

A few years ago the Indigenous Idle No More movement raised up the issues of inequality affecting Canada’s Indigenous people. While Trudeau yesterday was quick to recite his standard mantra that the relationship his government has with Indigenous people is his government’s most important relationship when asked why the recommendations from the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry were not responded to; the fact is they remain without a response.

While the Trudeau government has designated billions of dollars to be spent on Indigenous issues, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellgarde still claims that Indigenous Canadians are far behind non-Indigenous Canadians on the UN quality of life index. Inuit leader Natan Obed has much the same story dealing with overcrowded living conditions and lack of economic opportunity.

There are problems; there is inequality in the treatment of Indigenous Canadians in the criminal justice system, inequality of opportunity in access to social services and health care and in lack of economic opportunities.

Ironically the racial upheaval and cries of discrimination come as June is upon us, which is Pride Month celebrating LGBTQIA+ rights for which this community fought hard over many years while realizing there is still a distance to travel to get to their mountain top.

It is not enough for leaders, as Trudeau and Minister McKenna did yesterday, to deplore the state of race relations and once again tell those suffering discrimination as Trudeau did yesterday that we will “keep working together to build a fairer, better, more equitable country for all.”

It is long past time for words, it is time to address the problem by action. When Blackface arose in the election campaign, an action plan was promised. If Trudeau is serious about the meaning of the words he utters, it is time to put an action plan in place, with specific deliverables and milestones to be attained so that success may be measured.

Such an action plan would speak to education, civil liberties and the justice system, equality of opportunity for health care, social services and to fully participate in Canada’s economy.

Fortunately we as Canadians have a lot of positives to build upon. Rex Murphy in his article on this subject published yesterday states we have a welcoming immigration system. Our largest cities are a great montage of people from every corner of the world, of every colour and every creed. We celebrate multiculturalism and our schools teach tolerance and acceptance of others.

Murphy states Canada “while not perfect has been doing its best to be tolerant and welcoming.”

It is time that our leaders instead of the usual words of comfort at time like this, to put in place an action plan that can bring minorities in Canada closer and then to that mountain top.

To Come

  • The Parliamentary Budget Office will post two new legislative costing notes; measures for seniors and temporary changes to the Canada Student Loan Program, 2020-21
June 3
  • Bank of Canada deals with interest rates
June 4
  • Toni Gravelle, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada delivers a speech to the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce
  • OPEC+ meeting to deal with oil output
  • First Ministers weekly phone call
June 5
  • Job numbers for May to be released
June 6
  • Anniversary of D-Day landings in 1944
June 9-10
  • U.S. Fed meets