Racism on Parliament Hill

When a large group of Black people showed up in the Parliament building in Ottawa two Mondays ago, at least one public servant who works there was paying attention.
But what was he thinking?
Did be believe that he was witnessing some sort of “invasion” of the Parliament.?
Was he there, with his camera at the ready, to capture the evidence of something untoward that he thought was about to happen? Or had happened?
Did he think, as some convenience store operators in Toronto, that when several black persons are gathered together, you better watch out for trouble?
Clearly, no one in the group of Black people who were there in the Parliament building was about to stage a coup -or a robbery.
According to reports reaching this newspaper, the Black gathering, which included many young people from different parts of the country, were not acting in a disorderly manner or causing any disturbance.
And they were there on legitimate business. They had scheduled meetings with government ministers and had the necessary permission to be where they were as they waited.
But our officious public servant was taking no chances.
Security was summoned and the Black people were told that they had to wait in the cafeteria.
Never mind that they had permission to be where they were.
So off to the cafeteria they went.
Of course, that is not the end of the matter.
The group which included people from various parts of Canada, had only that weekend attended the National Black Canadians summit in Ottawa and their scheduled meetings with government ministers were planned to discuss” a range of issues of deep concern to the Black community.”
Their unplanned and unexpected meeting with our public servant with the camera was certainly not part of their agenda.
But understandably, this issue has now become a major concern. Many Black Canadians have condemned it as anti-Black racism.
And the matter has been raised in the House of Commons.
As we reported, Liberal MPs Greg Fergus (Hull-Aylmer) who heads the federal Black caucus, and Andy Fillmore (Halifax) have asked Speaker of the House Geoff Regan to investigate this matter.
And the speaker has promised to look into it.
We also note that the Parliamentary Protective Service which is responsible for security on Parliament Hill, is investigating the incident.
Joseph Law, the chief of staff to the director of the Parliamentary Protective Service , said in a statement. its security personnel ” must always conduct themselves with professionalism and respect towards parliamentarians, employees and visitors,”
He also pointed out that “we need to do a better job in ensuring that this standard is maintained across our workforce. The Parliamentary Protective Service has zero tolerance for any type of discrimination.”
The Federation of Black Canadians, one of the organizers of the National Black Canadians summit, has requested a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as it seeks a “formal commitment to end racial profiling at the federal level.”
While all this is commendable, it is unfortunate that this incident has overshadowed the news about discussions between the Black group and the government ministers.
Specifically what were the matters raised in these discussions? And what assurances have been given to the Black community that they will receive the attention which they deserve?
We look forward to receiving more information about these issues.
At the same time we cannot deny that in 2019, we continue to face the serious problem of anti-Black racism.
Clearly, it will not go away, if we simply ignore it.
Whether it is on Parliament Hill, in the workplace or in the classroom, we have to continue the struggle to rid the society of this monstrous problem.