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Throne speech promises on tackling systemic racism earn mixed reactions

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government’s throne speech promises on systemic racism are being met with mixed reactions, with some applauding the commitments and others calling for less talk and more action.

While much of Wednesday’s throne speech focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and plans to overhaul Canada’s economy, it also included several promises to address systemic racism.

Those included more action on police reform and the criminal justice system as well as redoubling the fight against online hate, diversifying the public service and supporting Black Canadian culture. 

The decision to include systemic racism in a throne speech for the first time is being seen by some, such as University of Ottawa professor Boulou Ebanda de B’Beri, as reason for applause and optimism that the government is serious about tackling the issue. 

Others such as Fareed Khan of the advocacy group Canadians United Against Hate say the speech largely repeated past promises, and that it is past time for the Liberals to stop talking and do more..

University of Waterloo professor Kathy Hogarth says the throne speech’s later emphasis on protecting English and French without any mention of Indigenous languages raises questions about how serious the Liberals are about critically assessing how government structures contribute to racism.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 24, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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