Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism Pablo Rodriguez responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Friday October 19, 2018 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Feds consulting on national anti-racism strategy behind closed doors

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says people still face systemic racism in some communities

The federal government is consulting experts and community leaders ahead of a new national anti-racism strategy, but in a series of secretive meetings to avoid them turning into public shouting matches.

Four meetings have already been held — all in southern Ontario — and another 19 are to take place nationwide before the end of the year.

However, the government is not publicizing who attended, who will be at future meetings or even where those meetings are taking place. Participation is by invitation only.

There are still Canadian communities where people face systemic racism, oppression and discrimination, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said Friday.

The minister has not, however, directly explained why he told The Globe and Mail newspaper earlier this week that systemic racism was not “part of his vocabulary” and that Canada was not in fact a racist society.

READ MORE: Trudeau says anti-black racism exists in Canada

New Democrat MP Jenny Kwan asked Rodriguez this week multiple times in the House of Commons to explain and apologize for his comment, to which Rodriguez only said racism does exist in Canada.

The racism consultations follow a Commons committee study of systemic racism in Canada, which last winter recommended a national plan be developed with measurable goals.

The government quietly posted online information about the start of the consultations Oct. 15, along with an online survey members of the public can take. The questions touch on personal experiences with racism and whether the phenomenon exists in the justice system, with jury selection or even in how workplaces schedule holidays.

But there is no information about the consultations beyond that they will occur with “community members, leaders, experts, academics and stakeholders across Canada.”

“These meetings will not be open to the public in order to ensure that participants are able to have focused, meaningful and safe conversations on subjects that, for many, include reflecting on harmful experiences,” the website states.

The NDP argues the process is so secretive a number of groups that would want to take part didn’t even know the consultations had begun.

Last February, an anti-racism town hall hosted in Toronto by several Liberal MPs and members of the Ontario legislature ended up with a call to police. It was derailed by a number of people Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith says were white supremacists bent on shouting down speakers demanding a definition of Islamophobia.

“It was a jarring reminder of the work we still have to do in the name of equality when people are so willing to be so public in displaying their hate,” Erskine-Smith said in the Commons this week.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Thursday’s blackout likely caused by vandalism

Power was out for 10,000 customers from Quick to the Hazeltons for almost 11 hours

VIDEO: Witset cannabis shop officially opens

The store, located at the gas bar on Hwy 16, is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Police investigate July 2 homicide in Houston

Man succumbed to injuries at Pearson Road residence

Tahltan fighter from Telkwa wins provincial award

Lando Ball recognized for his commitment to and accomplishments in karate and for community service

RCMP patrol of smokehouse sparks concerns by Wet’suwet’en hereditary leader

Hereditary Chief Woos says he is feeling uneasy after RCMP attended the smokehouse with rifles

B.C. records 31 new cases, six deaths over three days due to COVID-19

There are 166 active cases in B.C., 16 people in hospital

B.C. homeowners plead for action on condo insurance crisis

Strata property fees growing bigger than mortgage payments

Indigenous man behind complaint of BC Transplant’s alcohol abstinence policy has died

David Dennis, who is Nuu-chah-nulth, argued that six-month sobriety policy is a ‘lethal form of racism’

ICBC to resume road tests in July with priority for rebookings, health-care workers

Tests have been on hold for four months due to COVID-19

Urge travellers to follow COVID-19 rules in a ‘gentle way’: B.C.’s top doctor

Cases surging in the U.S. have B.C. officials hoping the border stays shut all summer

96-year-old woman scales B.C. butte with help of family, friends

‘I did as I was told and I enjoyed every minute of it’

Parallel crises: How COVID-19 exacerbated B.C.’s drug overdose emergency

Part 1: Officials say isolation, toxic drug supply, CERB, contributing to crisis

Canadians with disabilities disproportionately hit by COVID-19 pandemic

More than four out of 10 British Columbians aged 70 and up have various disabilities

Most Read