Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pressed supporters at a Black History Month celebration in Gatineau, Quebec Monday to “recognize that anti-black racism and unconscious bias does exist.”
Trudeau has recently been suggesting that First Nations people are also subject to systemic racism in Canada.
“It’s time we recognize that anti-black racism and unconscious bias does exist,” Trudeau told the audience.
“It’s time we hear — and believe — the stories of men and women who have been judged by the colour of their skin. It’s time we take action to ensure equal opportunity and equal treatment of black Canadians in our schools and our places of work.”
Over the past weekend, Trudeau criticized the not guilty verdict of a Saskatchewan farmer charged with the second-degree murder of an aboriginal man.
Trudeau’s suggestion that the justice system was failing all First Nations due to latent racism provoked criticism from both legal experts and the official opposition Conservative Party, saying it is not the prime minister’s role to question a jury’s verdict or suggest it’s cause.
Trudeau suggested black Canadians were not offered the same opportunities nor receiving the same treatment as other Canadians, but offered no examples. He recognized that black groups cite statistics that say there is a higher proportion of Afro-Canadians in prison than in the general population and he promised to encourage more blacks to seek election to the country’s Parliament.
Late in January, Trudeau made Canada a signatory of the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent, which commits his government to documenting how black communities are faring throughout the world.