Prime Minister wants to move ‘very quickly’ on anti-racism initiatives, minister says


Jean-Yves Duclos

OTTAWA — Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos says the prime minister wants to move “very quickly” to dismantle barriers that contribute to systemic racism.

The government is making modest progress at diversifying the federal public service, but there is more work to do, especially in the senior ranks, Duclos told a media briefing on Monday.

More broadly, he said, the government can and should help others remove barriers to progress for Canadians of different racial backgrounds.

Duclos says it’s about empowering everyone to see the obstacles that others are facing.

He rhymed off a list of areas, including education, public safety and Indigenous relations, where advances in equity can be made.

“As elected officials and, more generally, as citizens, we do have both the ability and the responsibility to help,” Duclos said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already engaged his team “to work very quickly and very efficiently” in coming up with a way forward, he said.

The government has come under pressure to spell out what it is doing to counter discrimination and entrenched racism in federal agencies following the police killing of a Black man, George Floyd, in the United States and a spate of confrontations between police officers and Indigenous Peoples as well as racial minorities in Canada.

Federal officials recently delayed a comprehensive response to the many recommendations of a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Trudeau said on Monday there had been “stacks of recommendations, of analyses, of reports on measures that can be taken” to address systemic racism, particularly against Indigenous Canadians.

“It is a question of picking which of those recommendations we should be moving forward with first,” Trudeau said.

“And that’s why we’re working with Indigenous leadership and communities, working with the Black community, working with racialized Canadians to prioritize exactly what things we should do rapidly.”