Concerns raised over future of legal clinic

Margaret Parsons

Will the African Canadian Legal Clinic in Toronto be closed after serving the community for more than 20 years?

This question keep popping up with  the growing concerns in the Black and Caribbean community over the future of the clinic.

Fuelling these concerns are local media reports that the clinic is at risk of losing its funding.

One recent  report said that the clinic was” in fundamental breach of its obligations” under its funding agreement with Legal Aid Ontario (LAO).

But Margaret Parsons, executive director of the clinic, denies this while conceding that there have been “past minor deficiencies.”

Hitting out at the LAO for what she called “anti-black racism” and its “plantation mentality,” Trinidad-born Parsons said they ( the LAO) are sitting on a $ 28 million deficit and they want to talk about financial mismanagement while poor refugees and immigrants can’t get legal aid  certificates  because of their financial mismanagement .”

” If this ( the African Canadian Legal Clinic) was a white clinic  that had expanded the way we did and if this was a white-run clinic or any white organization that had been to the Supreme Court 15 times, we would have been the darling of the clinic system,” she told the Caribbean Camera.

” We would have been held out as the best practice but what we have become instead because of our color is the envy of the LAO,” she added.

Parsons said the clinic has a lot of enemies “because of its fearless and uncompromising position in advocating for our community.

“We have done it at the national level at the provincial level, and even at the United Nations We’re not going to stop doing that and that has made us a target.”

Parsons explained that the  negative publicity of financial mismanagement of the clinic ” has created divisions in our community.

“But we still have the support of a large number of people who are concerned about the future of the clinic.”

A meeting of community supporters of the clinic is scheduled to be held  later this week.