Mayor Tory: Unity, elimination of discrimination top priority

At Black History Month Reception

 By Lincoln DePradine

Among those who attended Mayor John Tory’s ‘Black History Month Reception’ was Michael Lashley (right), former Trinidad & Tobago Consul General in Toronto

Lawyer and businessman John Tory says unity among Torontonians and eliminating inequality and discrimination, including anti-Black racism, are his first priority as Mayor of the City of Toronto.

“No job is more important to me, no job will ever be more important to me, as long as I have this job, than bringing this city together,’’ Mayor Tory said Tuesday to a large audience at City Hall’s Rotunda.

The event was the annual “Black History Month Reception’’ hosted by the mayor and chaired by his deputy Michael Thompson, councillor for Scarborough Centre. “The energy in this room is absolutely outstanding,’’ Thompson said. “It is really good to have you here at City Hall.’’

Both Thompson and Tory touted the city’s five-year “Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism’’, and the United Nations declaration of 2015–2024 as “The International Decade for People of African Descent’’.

Among the objectives of observing the “International Decade’’ are to “promote respect, protection and fulfillment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by people of African Descent’’; and also to “promote a greater knowledge of and respect for the diverse heritage, culture and contribution of people of African descent to the development of societies’’.

Toronto’s “Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism’’, covering the period 2018-2022, aims at removing systemic barriers faced by Black people in Toronto in areas such as employment, education, healthcare, housing, transit and policing.

“As long as you’re a supporter of justice we need your heart, mind, hands and bodies to help us advance change,’’ lawyer Anthony Morgan, manager of the city’s “Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit’’, said in remarks at the reception.

Tory, mayor since 2014, said everyone must ensure to “pull the city together’’.

“It is all for one and it is one for all,’’ said the mayor, describing Toronto as the “most diverse’’ and “greatest city’’ in the world.

“We are not all in a position where we are equal as of this moment, and there are some who have struggled more than others,’’ said Tory. And that is my job as well – to help people lift themselves up including, and starting with, wiping out and standing up against discrimination and hate when we see it anytime against anybody in this city.’’

Tory announced that the city soon will wrap the sign at Nathan Phillip Square with a design featuring African fabric, prints and symbols, beginning Toronto’s recognition of “The International Decade for People of African Descent’’.

“That wrap will be put on the sign and will remain there until 2021,’’ said Tory.