Many in our community were rightly offended when a minister in Doug Ford’s PC government made comments in the Ontario Legislature that put down our community.
It occurred during Question Period (a time when MPPs seek information from Ontario’s premier and their ministers as well as hold them to account for their actions and decisions), when a fellow NDP MPP asked a question about ending police carding. Rather than answer the question, the minister spoke of wearing a bulletproof vest at Jane and Finch and visiting sites that previously had “bullet-ridden people killed in the middle of the night.”
All words spoken in Ontario’s Legislature are recorded forever in what are called the Hansard transcripts. Thanks to this minister, we are again stigmatized but this time in Queen’s Park documents.
The following day, I used my first Member’s Statement to balance his harsh words with a positive message about our community. I am sharing these words with you as well:
“Mr. Speaker, I congratulate you and all members on your election to this prestigious House. I would also like to thank my family, friends, team and the great people of Humber River – Black Creek. It is an honour and a dream to represent my lifelong home.
Within Humber River – Black Creek is the Jane and Finch community where I grew up. It is a place where over a hundred languages are spoken, and the hospitality of people is second to none.
It’s a place of active young people, eager students and caring teachers, thriving businesses, and brilliant entrepreneurs.
We are a community of hard working parents, educated professionals, inspired artists, amazing athletes, active seniors, and passionate activists.
We have beautiful naturalized areas and parks, annual events and festivals, where families gather and children play.
Yesterday, however, it was with great disappointment that a government minister named my community only to describe it as a place of crime, as he dodged a question from my esteemed colleague, MPP Kevin Yarde who was calling for an end to the discriminatory practice of police carding.
Unfortunately, this stigmatization is nothing new to Jane and Finch, but it is especially hurtful and callous to hear it in this house. Words spoken here carry great weight and as such must be weighed carefully.
Rather than apologize, the Conservative Minister sent a representative here last night to read a mean-spirited and insensitive statement.
Jane and Finch, and Humber River – Black Creek, deserve better than this.”
Our community doesn’t need opportunistic photo-ops from the Ford government that casts us in a negative light. Addressing safety is something we all want, but this is not the way to do it.
I will continue to fight for the issues that matter to us like lowering the unfair auto insurance rates we face, access to better jobs, improved health care, and proper funding for our schools and education.
And I will challenge the Ford government’s negative and tiresome stereotypes of our neighbourhood that hurt all of us.