Political leaders in Ottawa started the week by addressing the protests against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Demonstrations swept the United States over the weekend and spilled into Canada, where protesters also marched in response to the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Toronto last week. The 29-year-old fell from the balcony of a 24th-floor Toronto apartment while police were in the home. Her death is being probed by the province’s police watchdog.
The message from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was that anti-black racism isn’t just an American problem, but a Canadian one, too.
“When you see someone that looks like you, being killed like that, it makes you feel like you have no worth and no value,” Mr. Singh said about Mr. Floyd’s killing.
Mr. Singh said the government needs to do a better job collecting race-based data in order to clearly identify problems and then fix them. He pointed to the changes that were made to limit carding in Toronto after data was collected that clearly showed how black and Indigenous people are disproportionately stopped by police.
He called for systemic changes in policing, the justice system and to inequities in health care, education housing and employment which “perpetuates the undervaluing of black life, of racialized people’s lives.”
Mr. Trudeau said his government has already invested in Statistics Canada to collect more race-based data and is working with provinces to collect disaggregated data related to COVID-19. But he didn’t give a timeline for when that data will be available. Evidence from other countries and small amounts of information in Canada show that poorer people and people of colour are being hit harder by the novel coronavirus. But the Prime Minister acknowledged that collecting that information is an uphill battle, given that at the moment the government doesn’t even have the age data for a “large portion” of the people diagnosed with COVID-19.
During last fall’s federal election, pictures and video surfaced of Mr. Trudeau wearing blackface at least three times up until 2001. At the time Mr. Trudeau said he doesn’t remember how many times he wore blackface. Asked Monday whether his own actions diminish his moral leadership on this issue, Mr. Trudeau said he regrets his past actions but will continue to be an ally and “focus on doing better every single day.”
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer also acknowledged the protests and anti-black racism, but did not provide any concrete recommendations for what the government should do to address it and did not comment on the issue in both official languages.
“We have to teach the next generation of Canadians that words can hurt, words can lead to violence and we all have to do better to make sure that we are not in any way adding to the feelings of insecurity that many people have,” Mr. Scheer said.
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Today’s announcement from the federal government is that it will give cities their proceeds from the gas tax a little early. Mr. Trudeau said that usually municipalities get their combined $2.2-billion over two payments, but this year they’ll get it all in one. Cities, which have been staring down serious shortfalls due to the pandemic, have suggested they will need a lot more money than that to get through the year.
Mr. Trudeau also rejected a suggestion from U.S. President Donald Trump that Russia be allowed back to the Group of Seven.
Masai Ujiri (The Globe and Mail) on George Floyd’s death and addressing racism in our society: “No one can deny the police have a tough job. But they are peace officers. They are supposed to protect all of us. This is the profession they chose. I didn’t see any peace or protection when that officer had his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck. I saw indifference. The ‘order’ in ‘law and order’ should not mean the deadly suppression of people of colour; it should mean preserving a society so we can all feel free and safe, to live in peace with each other.”
Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on U.S. President Donald Trump, China and the scuttling of a G7 summit: “Mr. Trump was never interested in a common front. He cared about trade balance, not trade practices. With China, his solution was to get the Chinese to agree to buy more American goods. While he negotiated his phase one trade deal, he stayed pretty quiet about Hong Kong. If there’s a phase two, it won’t be about allies.”
Frank Ching (The Globe and Mail) on Hong Kong caught between China and the U.S.: “Ironically, both China and the United States say that they have the best interests of Hong Kong people at heart. Yet Hong Kong has been rendered fearful anyway, by both powers: of China’s potential to restrain its people’s political rights and freedoms, and of the U.S.'s threat to its economic well-being.”
Christopher Ragan and Andrew Potter (The Globe and Mail) on why stimulus efforts shouldn’t be focused on the ‘green’ economy: “The government’s inability to pick winners in the marketplace is precisely why the preferred climate policy for almost all economists is to steadily increase the carbon tax on the GHG emissions that we know to be harmful and let the market forces do the rest.”
Amir Attaran (Maclean’s) on Canada’s pandemic response: “Instead of the successful nosedive in France, Germany, Spain, or Switzerland—a feat their governments achieved despite a faster climb and higher peak—Canada’s curve resembles an undulating plateau or bunny ski hill. By May 25, Canada was in the same place as April 4—fully seven wasted weeks, littered with thousands of dead.”
Shachi Kurl (Ottawa Citizen) on long-term care homes: “The consequences of inaction are too troubling to fathom. Those who watched the news or saw firsthand how our elders died in heartbreaking, preventable and miserable ways now think of their own ends. Some may express a desire to avail themselves of Canada’s medical assistance in dying provisions rather than face their final days in indignity and despair. And while MAID legislation is widely supported in this country, is that scenario really its best intended legacy?”