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July 19, 2018

(TORONTO, ON) The Ontario Federation of Labour is concerned about the unnecessary and anecdotal “bulletproof vest” comments made in the Legislature, by Ontario’s Minister of Community Safety and Corrections Michael Tibollo.

“I went out to Jane and Finch, put on a bulletproof vest, and spent 7 o’clock to 1 o’clock in the morning visiting sites that had previously had bullet-ridden people killed in the middle of the night,” said Minister Tibollo.

The Minister, who is also responsible for Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate was responding to a question from MPP Kevin Yarde about carding and whether Ontario’s new government plans to re-introduce the controversial practice of arbitrary street checks.

“The Minister’s anecdotal comment is yet another negative portrayal of a section of Toronto that is predominantly home to people of colour,” said OFL Executive Vice-President Ahmad Gaied.

“There is not a single area of Toronto that hasn’t experienced some form of violence, including gun violence. To perpetuate divisive stereotypes and further stigmatize any areas of our cities should be concerning to every Ontarian. For those comments to be made by the Minister responsible for Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate is deeply concerning,” Gaied added. “Why the Minister thought it appropriate to mention that he toured a Toronto neighbourhood while wearing a bulletproof vest in response to a question about the practice of carding is beyond me.”

The OFL called for the creation of Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate many years ago, and our members have long fought against racism and toward dismantling persistent stereotypes.

The Minister’s comments are quite worrisome and should give pause for thought about whether Michael Tibollo has the credibility to lead the work of the Directorate, which has mandated aims that include: to lead the government’s anti-racism initiatives to build a more inclusive society, and works to identify, address and prevent systemic racism in government policy, legislation, programs and services.

The OFL represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.

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