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Ontario and Quebec premiers assert the absence of systemic racism in Canada and receive backlash

Robert Cannon

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Canada, Systemic Racism, Ontario Quebec Premiers

Two Canadian premiers stated that Canada does not see acts of systemic racism after the growth of Black Lives Matter demonstrations all around the world. The brutal death of a black man, George Floyd, when restrained by a white police officer in the United States, has led to a global discussion of systemic racism.

The premiers of Ontario and Quebec received backlash after they suggested that Canada does not entertain a systemic racism problem like their neighboring country. Ontario’s premier, Doug Ford, has since then retracted his statement.

Speakers at an anti-racism demonstration in Quebec criticized their premier Francois Legault for treating the issue lightly.

History of discrimination:

The comments made by the premiers indicate a deep-rooted misconception that pervades Canadian society. While Canadians find peace in claiming to be less racist than the U.S., it does not mean that systemic racism is non-existent in the country.

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Established by French and British nationals known for their mistreatment of indigenous populations, Canada gained recognition as a nation in 1867 by British standards. This marked the beginning of a century of discriminatory immigration selection, fostered by whites, Christians, and the Canadian government of the time.

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Changes began to creep in under immigration minister, Ellen Fairclough, in 1962. Before that, immigration could be refused based on nationality, race, and social status.  In 1967, the country shifted to a points-based system, causing a reduction in discriminatory policies.

Existing problems:

The points system aims to make immigrant selection as objective as possible, but that has not stopped discrimination altogether. The tendency of giving preference to highly-skilled labor perpetuates labor inequalities and downplays the importance of unskilled or low-skilled labor that is essential for running an economy. Certain professions receive more offers and more respected than others.

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