This short month with the longest day in the year is unfolding with a packed legislative and policy agenda at all levels of government. From the City of Toronto (where OCASI’s offices are located) to Queen’s Park to Parliament Hill, announcements from our elected leaders have been raining down from on high: Most of it good.
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Earlier this month the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released the report Under Suspicion: Research and Consultation Report on Racial Profiling in Ontario. It is chockful of personal examples of how racial profiling tears at the soul of those profiled, reinforces the sense of otherness that many who are racialized experience, and undermines the social cohesion we so desperately need if this Canadian political project of diversity and inclusion is to be a success.
This year OCASI, Its members and allied organizations and groups decided to declare April Refugee Rights Month. The Anniversary of the Singh decision which falls on April 4th is a time to celebrate the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the fundamental rights of refugees – that in Canada refugees too have a right to life, liberty and security of persons.
The weather outside as I write this belies the fact that it is mid-March and we are less than a week away from the official start of Spring. But the frigid cold temperatures we have experienced in the past week did not deter the tens of thousands of women, children and male and non-binary allies who showed up to celebrate and protest across the province as we observed International Women’s Day.
OCASI has launched an Access to Justice project in partnership with Colour of Poverty-Colour of Change (COP-COC), Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, Rexdale Community Legal Clinic and South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, as well as COP-COC.
Over the past few weeks, my time has been taken up with government relations obligations: consultation with the Federal Minister responsible for immigration; discussions with the Provincial Ministry (of Citizenship and Immigration) and their new Refugee Resettlement Unit; participation on the Global Migration Compact Advisory Committee and my work on the Provincial Working Group charged with developing a roadmap for Income Security Reform.