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March 16, 2018

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The struggle to combat racial discrimination in Ontario and beyond continues in all avenues of life. Racism, bigotry, and hatred exist in all avenues of life, with hate crimes reported across Canada and Ontario.

In a recent poll, twenty-five per cent of Canadians answered that they have experienced racism. That’s a rise of 8 per cent since 2005. Hate crimes against Canada’s Jewish population rose a whopping 24% from 2015 to 2016, according to Statistics Canada. For Muslims in Canada, the statistics are starker: hate crimes in Canada have increased 253 per cent over the last four years.

The labour movement is committed to fairness and justice for all workers regardless of race and religion and continues to mobilize against racism. We must all work to end the rise of hate. The OFL urges all Ontarians to be part of the solution by taking part, wherever possible, in efforts that spur our province toward unity, understanding, and justice.

“Canada’s legacy of racism is obvious. We see it in the ongoing effects of residential schools, and in the racism faced by People of Colour every day,” said OFL President Chris Buckley. “Canada may have put the heroic human rights advocate Viola Desmond on the ten-dollar bill, but the province of Ontario continues to allow random street checks that disproportionately affect People of Colour. Ending street checks is one step on the road to ending discrimination.”

Currently, the province of Ontario is holding town halls on street checks, commonly known as carding. The practice of carding targets Black people by allowing police to pull them over and demand identification without any justification.

“The practice of carding is a shameful example of the state letting its agents, in this case the police, persecute People of Colour and Indigenous people across this province,” said OFL executive vice-president Ahmad Gaied. “I encourage every Ontarian to speak up against this practice wherever they are able. We have a chance now to make our voice heard and fight the discrimination that’s happening in plain sight on our streets every day.”

On this Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, take action and sign up to be part of the discussion around carding. Send a message to both the police and politicians that making People of Colour and Indigenous people more vulnerable on the streets of our province is unacceptable. To participate and find out more about town halls in your area visit this link: https://streetchecksreview.ca.

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on March 21st. On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid “pass laws” in Sharpeville, South Africa. The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the day in 1966 and called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow the OFL on Facebook and Twitter: @OFLabour.

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