Coming out of a nasty election campaign and a little bit of a dressing down that left him with a minority government and a deeply divided country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has his hands full trying to hold on to power at least for the next 18 to 24 months, the usual life-expectancy for that type of administration.
But as troubled as he might be over western anxieties that gave the opposition Conservatives almost every seat in that part of the country; pipe lines that his government owns but a big chunk of Canadians want to disown as well as the needs of a buoyant and expectant New Democratic Party, minority groups are still expecting a little something from Trudeau.
You see, in six weeks of campaigning, not once did anything relevant to minorities’ issues made it to the debates or other conversations except when the country found out about his penchant for mimicking Black and minority people with his many and varied costumes.
Truth is, not many of us were bothered by the prime minister’s absolutely foolish indiscretions as a teenager and then well into his adulthood, because of all the issues Black people face living in urban centre’s across Canada, Trudeau’s caricature performance of Harry Belafonte’s Day-O or his Arabian Night’s Aladdin look is not too high on the list of concerns.
You see, after our extended history in this country and our many experiences of marginalization, we’ve come to understand too well the constructs of white supremacy and why a rich fella might see no problem jumping around, singing and dancing with his face painted black.
But daylight has come, and as Canada’s colloquial tallyman, the hope is that Prime Minister Trudeau will see the growing disparities facing Black communities across Canada that continue to keep us marginalized and see the need to tally some of the vast resources of this country as a way to alleviate an age-old problem. The story has not changed significantly over the decades and certainly not during Trudeau’s four years in government.
Studies after studies show the extent of the marginalization of Black Canadians: excluded from home ownership, neighborhoods with good public transit and key employment markets in the one research group put it.
In Toronto, researchers found that factors such as inequality and income disparitiecontribute to what is described as a “segregation” problem when it comes to where Blacks live.
The Ontario umbrella organization for immigrant services gleaned the 2016 Census and painted a discouraging picture on the state people of color in that province and across Canada:
• 20.8% of peoples of color in Canada are low-income compared to 12.2% of non-racialized people;
• Racialized women earned 58 cents, and racialized men earned 76 cents, for every dollar a white man earned in Ontario in 2015.
• Black students were 12% of the Toronto District School Board student population but represented 48% of all expulsions;
• 40% of inmates in segregation at the Toronto South Detention Centre were Black, but they are only 7.5% of the Toronto population;
• Most recent immigrants were spending more than 50% of their income on housing; 15% spend 75% or more of their income on housing;
• In 2011-2012, almost 11 million Canadian households experienced food insecurity; the percentage was higher among recent immigrants – 19.6%, versus 12.4% among Canadian born.
Another group of researchers found that inequalities in the labor market point to the fact that racialized Canadians are three times more likely to live in poverty than other Canadians (19.8 per cent compared to 6.4 per cent).
From all accounts, the situation is dire for a significant percentage of Canada’s Black population and it’s because of that groups personal or collective failings. Systemic racism has away of keeping people locked in a cycle of poverty that’s difficult to break.
And government is the best mechanism to take the necessary action needed to bring change.
It’s not as if the Trudeau government doesn’t know and understand this.
They do but they continue to fool with the issue.
Think about their pre election announcement of earmarking $25 million for projects in Black communities across the country.
Yep, $25 million for a community that is mired in poverty is a sick joke but they were not smiling.
Another truth is this: racism and discrimination in this society will be with us for a while yet. The endemic poverty that’s connected to it doesn’t have to be.
The will to bring change is in the unpainted hands of PM Trudeau and his depleted team in Canada’s House of Commons.