The conservative path to a fairer country

Posted on June 10, 2020 in Governance Debates

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Sound conservative values, such as fiscal responsibility, an economy that works for all, fairness, opportunity, self-reliance, respect for the rule of law and personal freedom are essential if we hope to level the socioeconomic playing field

The reality is that Canada, much like the United States, has a history of social injustice and economic inequality between different racial groups. This goes as far back as the first contact between Europeans and Indigenous peoples. Over the centuries, the economic and political imbalances between communities have been redefined with each new wave of immigration, as evidenced by the fact that we scrapped and denounced the head tax, only to impose another variant of it — a now normalized right of landing fee.

Racism towards various minority groups exists in Canada still, and anti-black racism is a real problem and is certainly a cause of frustration, but we believe that there is hope. Through solid political and civic engagement with our democratic institutions, social and economic justice can be achieved. Canadian values and, in particular, true conservative principles, have and will continue to shape a fairer and more inclusive Canada. An essential first step is to recognize and admit that there are social and economic challenges to overcome.

Take the current COVID-19 crisis, for example. Data shows that visible minority groups in Canada have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and the economic fallout resulting from the tough social-distancing measures that have been put in place. This is coming on top of endemic economic and health crises in these communities, yet Canada still refuses to collect ethnicity-related health and mortality data, in contrast to many other OECD countries, including the U.S.

According to Statistics Canada, approximately one in four Canadians could become financially vulnerable due to work interruptions and economic lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is particularly concerning for visible minority groups. The Ontario Anti-Racism Directorate’s 2017 community consultations found that black-Canadians face major obstacles when looking for employment. Even though the black community has achieved much success in many sectors, systemic discrimination puts a significant section of the community at risk. This is especially true during periods of great economic uncertainty, such as we find ourselves in today.

Marginalized communities are negatively impacted in many other ways, as well, including: over-representation in the criminal justice system; lower levels of educational attainment; poorer health and quality of life; restricted access to capital and less property ownership. These outcomes reinforce systemic barriers.

The Association of Black Conservatives (ABC) actively promotes civic engagement and political participation because these are the proven pathways towards reform. It is only through active engagement in democratic politics at all levels — municipal, provincial and federal — that real and lasting systemic change can be achieved.

Moreover, it is critical that all communities, particularly disadvantaged communities, engage with all political parties and not just left-leaning parties that act as though they are entitled to the visible minority vote. It is essential that marginalized communities are not just in the room, but are also in decision-making positions. This is not about quotas; it is about diversity.

Canada needs to come to terms with the fact that our standards regarding diversity and equity fails to meet acceptable standards in 2020. Sound conservative values, such as fiscal responsibility, an economy that works for all, fairness, opportunity, self-reliance, respect for the rule of law and personal freedom are essential if we hope to level the socioeconomic playing field and allow communities and individuals to thrive.

Economic inequality and social injustice are enduring problems that require sound policies and political commitment. ABC believes in advancing the principles of equity and inclusion for the black-Canadian community and all Canadians. As we look to build a better and stronger country after COVID-19, persistent socioeconomic inequalities in visible minority groups can no longer be overlooked. The True North is stronger and freer when individuals can reach their full potential. We are, after all, our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.

National Post

Ako Ufodike is the chair, and William Luke is a board member, of the National Council of the Association of Black Conservatives.

Opinion: The conservative path to a fairer country

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