Ontario Liberals pledge action on anti-racism, including more diverse police hiring

steven del duca cp

The Ontario Liberals are making a host of promises today aimed at combatting racism, including creating a new fund to hire police officers from underrepresented communities.

Leader Steven Del Duca says if his party is elected June 2 he would ensure regular police training on de-escalation, anti-racism, cultural sensitivity and mental health, and require police services to disclose diversity statistics.

The Liberals would also end the practice of streaming in schools for Grades 9 and 10, which Del Duca says perpetuates anti-Black racism and segregates students from marginalized backgrounds, though the Progressive Conservative government has already announced Grade 9 will be destreamed for the next school year.

Del Duca didn't divulge the cost of many of the promises, including how much would be in the fund for hiring underrepresented police officers, saying a fully costed platform will be released soon.

He is also promising to provide $10 million in grants for Black entrepreneurs and small businesses, $5 million to Black historical sites and community centres, and establish a cabinet position dedicated to fighting racism, the previous Liberal government had a minister responsible for anti-racism.

The Liberals say they would introduce new laws to protect places of worship from violence and intimidation and pass a bill that was introduced this year by the NDP called Our London Family Act, legislation named after a Muslim family in London, Ont., that was struck and killed by a truck last summer in what police say what a hate-motivated attack.

The bill would create safe zones around religious institutions, provide more education and tools for schools to fight racism, ban protests at Queen's Park that incite racist, homophobic and other forms of hate, and prevent white supremacy groups from registering as societies.