Premier Ford and Conservatives celebrate Black History Month

By Lincoln DePradine

Patrice Barnes, David Smith & Charmaine Williams

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has hailed the accomplishments of African-Canadians, saying he’s “grateful’’ for the “many contributions’’ they have made to the province.

“I’m so grateful for everything the Black community has brought to our province, including the culture and economically as well,’’ Ford, leader of the Progressive Conservative (PC) Party, told The Caribbean Camera at a Black History Month (BHM) event at Queen’s Park. “We need everyone to celebrate not only this month, but every month throughout the year.’’

The event, at the main legislative building, was organized by Ontario PC Caucus, which includes three Black MPPs – Charmaine Williams, David Smith and Patrice Barnes. They were elected to provincial parliament in last year’s Ontario polls.

Williams, MPP for Brampton Centre, is Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity; Smith, Scarborough

Patrice Barnes, David Smith & Charmaine Williams with Doug Ford

Centre MPP, is Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development; and Ajax MPP Barnes is Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education, and the first female Black Deputy Speaker of the Legislature.

“I’m so pleased that we’re here; we’re present, we’re in places that we’re not used to be in. So, we need to own and embrace it and be strong, because we deserve to be here,’’ Barnes said.

At the event, which included live cultural performances and historical exhibits, the MPPs and the premier shared mutual admiration for one another, while also praising the leadership of Ford and highlighting the Conservative approach for tackling challenges confronting Ontario.

Ford said that BHM is not only an opportunity to celebrate Black achievements, but it’s “also a time to acknowledge that racism still exists in society and recommit to the ongoing work to ensure that all Ontarians, including the province’s Black community, have the same opportunities to succeed and thrive. That’s why our government is investing in programs that combat the harmful effects of racism and hate, empower Black youth with skills to find good-paying jobs and help Indigenous, Black and other racialized entrepreneurs start or grow their business’’.

Williams recalled when the opportunity arose to leave her job in Brampton, where she was serving as a city councillor, to run for the PCs in the 2022 Ontario elections.

“I said I’m going to go for it. Because if there’s a premier I want to work under is going to be Doug Ford,’’ she said.

Smith, in commending the premier, said last year’s Black PC success at the polls was an “historic achievement’’ that is “not only a testament to how our party is changing under the leadership of Doug Ford, but also a powerful reminder that no matter who you are, wherever you come from, what your skin colour, what your culture or background is, you can achieve success in the great Province of Ontario’’.

JTI Reporter