CPAC Receives Commitments from Major Parties to Address Racism and Hate
September 14, Toronto – Two of the three major political parties responded to a questionnaire from CPAC about the parties’ plans to combat the rise of racism and hate in Canada, leading to Election Day 2021.
In an attempt to secure a commitment from each of the three major parties to addressing hate and racism, particularly anti-Asian racism, CPAC, an organization representing over 30,000 internationally educated BIPOC professionals, sent an open letter to the leaders of the Liberal, Conservative and New Democratic Parties, seeking answers to five specific questions.
The New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party provided specific answers, whereas the Conservative Party conveyed an inability to give a fulsome response due to time restraint.
Both the Liberal and New Democratic Parties pledged to strengthen anti-racism infrastructure, increase support for anti-racism programs, and take immediate actions to control online hate. Both parties, however, sidestepped the specific ask of a national summit on anti-Asian racism.
The following are the questions and answers from the two parties. The full texts of the open letters and responses can be found below.
QUESTION 1: If you win the election and form the next Federal Government, what specific measures will you take, at the legislative, policy and operational levels, to combat racism, crack down on hate crime and hate incidents, and materially increase equity, diversity and inclusion in the hierarchies of the workplace?
A re-elected Liberal government will continue working to address anti-Asian racism in all forms and ensure Canada is a safe and welcome place for all Canadians.
Liberal Party of Canada Leader, Justin Trudeau, has spoken out against the rising Anti-Asian racism in multiple settings, most notably in the House of Commons, during a televised speech he gave in February 2020 for the Lunar New Year celebration, and during a panel discussion with prominent Chinese-Canadians during the 2021 virtual Lunar New Year celebration. But we know statements are not enough and action is required. This is why in Budget 2021 we committed $11.2-million investment to build up the Canadian Race Relations Foundation to support all racialized communities directly impacted by the rise of racism during the COVID-19 pandemic, including to help establish a national coalition to support Asian Canadians. Liberal Members of Parliament including Mary Ng, Bill Blair, and Bardish Chagger also worked closely with law enforcement agencies across the country to combat rising Anti-Asian racism during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to these actions, we established the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat. This secretariat leads a whole-of-government approach in addressing racism and discrimination. The strategy is a $45-million investment to build long-term changes in supporting communities and to improve policies, initiatives and practices in Canada’s federal institutions.
After broad consultations with the Asian communities, we also added the definition of anti-Asian racism to Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy which is an important step in our fight against all forms of anti-Asian racism and discrimination.
A NDP government will create a national working group to counter online hate, protect and expand public safety, and ensure that social media platforms are legally responsible for removing racist, hateful, and extremist content. We will also ensure that all major cities have dedicated hate crime units.
A NDP government will also lead a national effort for the collection of race-based data to make informed policy decisions to improve the outcomes for racialized Canadians and the communities they live in. We will work with provinces and territories to improve race-based data collection, and develop reporting and accountability mechanisms alongside racialized and Indigenous communities.
QUESTION 2: Will you commit to designate a minister with major responsibilities in equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-racism?
The Liberal government introduced a Minister of Diversity and Inclusion, Bardish Chagger, and will continue to ensure this important role continues. We have taken a whole of government approach to equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism and will continue to do so.
A NDP government will develop a whole-of-government approach to implementing equity, diversity, and inclusion in our policies. We will set an example by ensuring that the federal government finally addresses systemic racism within the civil service, which is currently facing at least one class action lawsuit on behalf of Black federal employees as a consequence of alleged decades-long discrimination.
QUESTION 3: Will you commit to maintain or increase the infrastructure and funding for the anti-racism related grant programs, such as Community Support, Multiculturalism, and Anti-Racism Initiatives (CSMARI) and Anti-Racism Action Program (ARAP)?
A re-elected Liberal government will continue to support important programs such as the Community Support, Multiculturalism, and Anti-Racism Initiatives and the Anti-Racism Action Program. We will build on the progress we made over the last six years and increase funding to multicultural community programs which play an important role in supporting community organizations across the country as they fight racism.
The NDP will continue supports for the Community Support, Multiculturalism, and Anti-Racism Initiatives program and Anti-Racism Action Program. We will assess how to strengthen these programs to put timely, meaningful action to words and ensure we can work together with community leaders beyond the two-year timeline currently in place.
QUESTION 4: Will you commit to maintain and strengthen the Federal Anti-racism Secretariat and the Canadian Race Relations Foundation?
A re-elected Liberal government will continue to support and strengthen the Anti-Racism Strategy and the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat by boosting funding for both. As mentioned in the previous answer, in Budget 2021 we committed $11.2-million investment to the Canadian Race Relations Foundation to support all racialized communities directly impacted by the rise of racism during the COVID-19 pandemic, including to help establish a national coalition to support Asian Canadians.
Stakeholders have repeatedly pointed out that the existing federal Anti-Racism Strategy has too many loopholes to be effective. It is unfortunate that it took the Liberal government several years to launch the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat even as evidence emerged about the skyrocketing rise in hate crime and discrimination.
The current efforts are insufficient, completed in secret without key stakeholder involvement, and were delayed for far too long.
A NDP government will apply an equity lens to our policies, scale up federal efforts to dismantle discrimination, and work with organizations like the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and CPAC to develop community-led efforts to combat anti-Asian racism.
QUESTION 5: What specific steps will you take to address anti-Asian racism? Will you commit to a national summit on anti-Asian racism, in the same fashion as the National Summits on Islamophobia and on Anti-Semitism?
We are committed to continue working with Asian communities and organizations across Canada to address anti-Asian racism. To address anti-Asian racism and support Canadians impacted by racism, a re-elected Liberal government will:
- Strengthen and boost funding to both the Anti-Racism Strategy and the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat.
- Support important programs such as the Community Support, Multiculturalism, and Anti-Racism Initiatives and the Anti-Racism Action Program.
- Increase funding to multicultural community programs.
- Establish a National Support Fund for Survivors of Hate-Motivated Crimes to help survivors with any uninsured costs that they have had to bear such as, mental health care, physiotherapy, medical equipment, and paramedical service.
- Introduce legislation within the first 100 days to combat serious forms of harmful online content including hate speech.
In March, following the tragic shootings in Atlanta, the NDP successfully proposed a motion in the House of Commons that called on the government to take action against anti-Asian racism, including by bringing together federal, provincial and territorial governments to coordinate our collective efforts, and working in collaboration with non-profits to combat hate crimes.
If elected, the NDP will work to fulfil these recommendations alongside Asian Canadian community members and stakeholders like CPAC.
CPAC, formerly Chinese Professionals Association of Canada, is a not-for-profit organization serving the community of internationally educated professionals. For nearly three decades, CPAC has been helping immigrant professionals with their licensure, skills upgrading, employment, professional and leadership development, cultural integration and accessing international business opportunities. CPAC also advocates on issues important to Chinese Canadians, with the goal of achieving the full potential of a diverse and inclusive Canadian society. The organization now has over 30,000 members from various cultural and ethnic backgrounds with a wide range of professional training and skills. CPAC members have access to a comprehensive package of services and benefits to enhance their life in Canada.