Images of the Prime Minister in blackface have exposed what most racialized, Indigenous and progressive people have long suspected. This incident points to the real, intertwined issues of individual and systemic racism in Canada. Justin Trudeau is part of the ruling class, and – in politics or not – has greatly benefitted from a political system built on racism and exploitation. The Liberals and Tories – which have formed all the federal governments since Confederation – are the defenders and propagators of capitalism, and are responsible for the policies and actions that have caused such misery and death for Indigenous and racialized people in Canada, and facilitated the massive accumulation of wealth by the corporations operating here.
Canada’s racist and genocidal policies against Indigenous Peoples were enacted to steal their land and the vast mineral and natural wealth on and under it. The impoverished conditions on First Nation reserves and other Indigenous communities are deliberate, not accidental, and are the result of deliberate under-funding by federal governments. The Trudeau government’s on-going legal appeals against court decisions which have ordered it to end the discriminatory under-funding of health, education and social programs for Indigenous children can only be seen as deliberate and racist.
Likewise the government’s refusal to enact the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which requires the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples to economic developments affecting them, such as the current mega-projects for pipelines and dams, which are being jointly driven by the Liberals and Tories, and by NDP government in BC and the former NDP government in Alberta. Other examples include deliberate delays in negotiating just settlement of land claims, the residential schools, the 60s scoop, and the current seizures of Indigenous children from their families.
The treatment and exploitation of racialized peoples in Canada is equally appalling, but also the result of policies intended to provide cheap labour based on colour and place of origin that directly benef corporations and employers. A de facto tiered wage system was not illegal and was in place across Canada until very recently, based on colour and gender. Now it is illegal, but it is still in place as statistics for wages and incomes for racialized workers as compared to non-racialized workers show.
This is a country built on the brutal exploitation of immigrant workers who were used to break up the land and open up the country for capitalist development and profiteering. These were people who came to Canada from all over the world to escape poverty, war, and persecution, to build a better life.
The racist, anti-immigrant record of both Liberal and Tory governments includes the Chinese head tax, the Komagata Maru incident, the Japanese internment camps, the refusal to accept Jews and others escaping the Holocaust, and the current attack on immigrants by the Conservatives and so-called ‘People’s Party’ of Maxime Bernier. This is the real history of Canadian governments, including current and aspiring contenders for Parliament.
The Communist Party of Canada condemns the racism so clearly exposed in the blackface photos of Prime Minister Trudeau. We also condemn the racism expressed in the hate speech of Maxime Bernier’s anti-People Party and Scheer’s Conservative Party, and in the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, racist, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic and hate-filled speech in social media, on billboards, and on the hustings by leaders, organizers, and candidates of all these parties.
We note with deep alarm the growth of racist and fascist movements in Canada, and the links that the Tories and People’s Party have with these forces through individuals such as Faith Goldy, Charles McVety, Ezra Levant, and through media such as Rebel News. It is the increased activities of these organizations, promoted by right-wing politicians and media, that led to the deaths of Muslims at prayer in Ste-Foy, Quebec, and to the increase in hate crimes daily across Canada. It is these links which make the Conservative and anti-People’s parties the greatest threat to democracy and to working people today.
The Liberals’ decision to vote for Harpers’ racist and vicious Barbaric Cultural Practices Act is not forgotten. While it was Tory legislation, it would have passed without the support of the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party.
The Communist Party calls for strict enforcement of hate speech laws now, and for legislation that recognizes hate groups as criminal organizations that perpetrate hate crimes against racialized groups, women, and visible minorities.
We call for enactment of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, for swift and just settlement of Indigenous land claims without extinguishment of inherent rights, for immediate action to raise living standards on and off reserve including equitable or better funding for healthcare, education, social programs, job creation, housing, infrastructure including clean water and sewage systems.
We also call for an immediate end to racial profiling and for public, civilian control over police forces; for enforcement of laws against discrimination in housing and employment; for pay and employment equity to be legislated and universally enforced; for abrogation of the mis-named Safe Third Country Agreement which forces refugees from the US to enter Canada through dangerous routes; for an end to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program which strips foreign workers of labour rights, and is effectively forced labour.
Canada should welcome immigrants and refugees, and transform into a country that stands for equality in life, as well as in law. Working people and all those who care about equality and democracy should make sure that the next government, and Parliament, act accordingly.
Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada