Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (The Canadian Press)

Premiers couldn’t agree on condemning systemic racism in declaration: Trudeau

Talk is cheap and it’s time to do things about racism, says Doug Ford

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says a first ministers’ declaration condemning racism didn’t mention systemic discrimination because not all the premiers would agree.

The statement released Thursday says firmly that all 14 first ministers oppose racism and will drive the governments they lead to fight it.

“Recognizing that one of the strengths of Canada is its diversity, first ministers condemn all forms of racism, discrimination, intolerance, and bigotry,” it says in part.

“First ministers are determined to combat it — including anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, and anti-Asian racism and hate, as well as anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Hate has no place in Canada and will not be tolerated.”

But the statement doesn’t talk about more subtle forms of discrimination, in which members of some groups are denied opportunities because of the way systems or programs are designed, without overt expressions of bigotry.

“There was not consensus on using the phrase ‘systemic discrimination’ or ‘systemic racism,’” Trudeau said Friday. “I have been crystal clear that the federal government recognizes it in order to be able to better address it.”

Trudeau wouldn’t say which premiers weren’t on board.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Friday that he was.

“First of all, I agree, there is systemic racism,” he said in his own news conference.

“I guess the biggest concern about the letter, with all the premiers, is a letter is one thing. We all acknowledge it, and I think we’ve all acknowledged it in our own provinces, and three to four weeks later we’re putting this letter out. We want action, and I know the prime minister wants action, too, but all the premiers are saying, ‘Enough of the talking. Let’s start getting action.’”

Talk is cheap, he said, and it’s time to do things about racism.

Public officials such as RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and Quebec Premier Francois Legault have said publicly that they want to root out racism but have rejected the idea that there are discriminatory features inherent to their institutions.

Lucki later reversed herself with a written statement that there is indeed systemic discrimination in the Mounties, though she has had difficulty citing examples.

The national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls offered several instances in its purview a year ago, including the force’s poor data on Indigenous homicide victims, gaps in dispatching in remote areas, a lack of cultural awareness among officers assigned to Inuit communities and numerous instances of Indigenous women’s reports of crimes not being taken seriously.

Legault, though he set up an anti-racism task force for Quebec earlier this month, has stuck to acknowledging that there are racists in Quebec but no deeper racist structures.

“My definition of systemic racism is that there’s a system in Quebec of racism and I don’t think there’s a system,” he said at the announcement of the task force.

Trudeau said he thinks the gap in the first ministers’ statement indicates how much work needs to be done to fight systemic racism.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Canada Day

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cranbrook, Kimberley communities participate in World Clean Up Day

The Columbia Outdoor School and JCI Kootenay partnered up to host events in three locations

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

B.C. Premier announces fall election

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka reacts to election announcement

The plane crash at the top of the mountain

50 years ago, a small plane was lost within sight of the Cranbrook airport. What went wrong?

Confirmed COVID-19 case at J.A. Laird School in Invermere

The S.D.6 Superintendent has notified families

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Majority needed to pass COVID-19 budget, B.C. premier says

John Horgan pushes urgent care centres in first campaign stop

Most Read