Evidence of meeting #78 for Canadian Heritage in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was crime.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Reuven Bulka  Congregation Machzikei Hadas, As an Individual
Michael Mostyn  Chief Executive Officer, National Office, B'nai Brith Canada
David Matas  Senior Legal Counsel, National Office, B'nai Brith Canada
Shimon Fogel  Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs
Tamara Thomas  Policy Researcher and Analyst, African Canadian Legal Clinic
Sikander Hashmi  Spokesperson, Canadian Council of Imams

5:20 p.m.

Policy Researcher and Analyst, African Canadian Legal Clinic

Tamara Thomas

Of course.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Anju Dhillon Liberal Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle, QC

—as well as the ACLC's submissions to the United Nations committees. We would like them submitted as well, please.

5:20 p.m.

Policy Researcher and Analyst, African Canadian Legal Clinic

Tamara Thomas

I can send those along as well.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Anju Dhillon Liberal Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle, QC

The situation isn't improving and, according to you, it's getting worse for crimes against black people, or their children being removed very easily by child services. The other thing you mentioned was children being unfairly disciplined in school, so my next question is, has your organization done anything to mitigate what's going on?

5:20 p.m.

Policy Researcher and Analyst, African Canadian Legal Clinic

Tamara Thomas

That's a lot of the bread and butter of what our organization does. We have stood as a voice for those individuals who are facing visits from child welfare agencies. We have people calling us regularly.

A lot of times what you will see is a situation of, for example, parents who are separating. One parent is white and the other is black, and it's always the white parent who gets custody of the child, in our experience. In other examples, school authorities or doctors are contacting the Children's Aid Society and indicating there is a case of neglect. Then those Children's Aid Societies will come in, but there's no real grappling with the fact that perhaps the neglect is a result of intergenerational poverty or of a one-parent household where the parent has to work three jobs because they are the only ones feeding themselves and their child.

There's a real lack of understanding and a non-holistic picture of what's going on.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Anju Dhillon Liberal Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle, QC

There's a lack of compassion too.

5:20 p.m.

Policy Researcher and Analyst, African Canadian Legal Clinic

Tamara Thomas

Yes, there's that as well. In terms of what our organization has been doing to try to combat these issues, we try to bring them up. We lobby government. We've worked with the Children's Aid Society. We've met with the Toronto District School Board, for example.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Anju Dhillon Liberal Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle, QC

Was that to no avail?

5:20 p.m.

Policy Researcher and Analyst, African Canadian Legal Clinic

Tamara Thomas

There has been some movement. For example, when we had a recent meeting with the Toronto District School Board, they seemed very aware of the issues in terms of streaming or discipline being disproportionately applied to black students. For example, Ontario has just released its education action plan. Many of the things that are addressed in those action plans are conversations that my organization has had with the Ministry of Education over an extended period of time.

There is slow action that's coming out of Ontario specifically, but these are all issues that we've been working on for a very long time.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Anju Dhillon Liberal Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle, QC

What would you like to see from the federal government as concrete recommendations, so that we can actually help?

October 18th, 2017 / 5:20 p.m.

Policy Researcher and Analyst, African Canadian Legal Clinic

Tamara Thomas

In addition to the stuff that has already been identified, I think that a lot of the issues that we see are within the area of provincial jurisdiction as well. It is nationwide, but the Children's Aid Society, as well as education and policing, all fall within provincial or municipal jurisdictions—

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Anju Dhillon Liberal Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle, QC

Yes.

5:20 p.m.

Policy Researcher and Analyst, African Canadian Legal Clinic

Tamara Thomas

As a result, there might not be mandatory rules or anything that the federal government, at the federal level, can do that might necessarily impact or influence or, I will say, force action on the part of the provinces and territories. It is specifically the province, in terms of where we are located. However, I think a call to action by the government, including heavy encouragement, recommendations, conversations with provincial and municipal bodies, having everyone around the table to talk—an accretion of frameworks—are all ways in which the federal government can work with the provinces to try to ensure that there is an equitable approach to solving these problems across the board.

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Anju Dhillon Liberal Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle, QC

I'll let MP Virani ask a few questions.

Thank you.

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

You have 30 seconds.

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Arif Virani Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

It's a pleasure to have the ACLC here. Thank you very much for being here.

Based on the Ontario anti-racism directorate and the Ontario Anti-Racism Act, can you give us any best practices that you can identify at the Ontario level that you think we should be adopting here?

5:25 p.m.

Policy Researcher and Analyst, African Canadian Legal Clinic

Tamara Thomas

I believe that Ontario has taken some very concrete steps forward in terms of identifying the issues, being receptive to meeting with groups and speaking to groups, and collecting data. I think condemning racism within the province, implementing an education action plan, and implementing an anti-racism strategy were specific target areas for specific issue areas and specific goals that have been identified. These are all fundamental ways to lay out areas of accountability or responsibility and then work towards them.

I think that all of these plans that the Ontario government has put out from its different ministries and bodies can operate as a framework for the federal government's approach to dealing with systemic racism.

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Thank you very much, Ms. Thomas.

Given that we actually started about 10 minutes late on this round, I would entertain that we use 15 minutes for five three-minute rounds.

I will begin with Mr. Reid. I think you were up for that extra three minutes.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

I'd like to continue the conversation we were having earlier. You answered the question so thoroughly that if you wish to add to it you could, but I had another question to put to you as well, which is in the news. In the Quebec legislature, Bill 62 either has been passed or is on the verge of being passed. This would limit service provision to—

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Mr. Hashmi wants to speak up.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Oh, I'm sorry. Okay.

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Go ahead.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

—to people who are wearing religious garb. I wanted to ask your reaction to this, if I could.

5:25 p.m.

Spokesperson, Canadian Council of Imams

Sikander Hashmi

I think it's very concerning and disappointing. I know that many Canadian Muslims are looking at this issue very closely, especially considering that the Charter of Values debate in Quebec was very divisive. Following that, there was a change in government and then, of course, the tragic events at the Quebec City mosque. I think the feeling or the expectation was that this is something that we've hopefully moved beyond but, unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case.

If we look at Canada as a country that promotes freedoms for women, we see that this measure actually does the opposite, because it will restrict women who choose to wear the niqab from accessing public services or even getting around town. I can't see how that's helping anyone.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

I appreciate that. I agree with you, by the way, on that one, very much so.

This is a provincial law, of course. Is there anything at the federal level that we ought to be doing with regard to this situation?