‘We are not better than the U.S.’: Experts slam premiers’ comments on racism in Canada

‘We are not better than the U.S.’: Experts slam premiers’ comments on racism in Canada
Hogarth was quoting comments made by Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Tuesday. Ford said comparing Canada and the U.S. is like “night and day” when asked to comment on how U.S. President Donald Trump is handing tensions over the killing of unarmed Black men.

“Thank God that we’re different than the United States and we don’t have the systemic, deep roots they have had for years,” Ford said.

On Monday, Quebec Premier François Legault acknowledged there are incidences of racism and discrimination in Quebec, but argued that discrimination isn’t systemic and that it’s not as serious or as widespread as in the U.S.

The next day, he also claimed Quebec shouldn’t compare itself to America because it has “not experienced slavery and the history of the United States.”

Both premiers’ comments have since been criticized widely, including on social media.

In an interview on Wednesday, Hogarth — whose research focuses on social policy and issues of belonging for racialized people — said the premiers’ language “denies the reality” of individuals who have “lived and endured” racism in Canada.

In addressing the situation in the U.S., many leaders have mentioned the Canadian context or compared Canada in a more favourable light to its neighbour.

“That comparative language and the language we don’t have racism like the U.S. is a language of erasure,” Hogarth argued. “It erases a history that has existed for well over a century.”

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Canada’s federal government for decades endorsed policies that saw Indigenous children forcibly removed from their families and placed in residential schools that sought to strip them of their language and culture.

Today, systemic issues in Canada include the over-representation of Indigenous people and Black people in the prison system and the over-representation of children from minority populations in care, she said.

As for Legault’s comments on slavery, Canada — including Quebec — does have a documented history of slavery, as several experts have since pointed out.
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