Toronto mayor discusses anti-Black racism with unions after nooses found on construction sites

John Tory

Toronto Mayor John Tory met with construction unions on Friday to discuss how to rid the industry of anti-Black racism after five nooses were reported on constructions sites around the city over the summer..

“The leadership at the construction unions acknowledged in the meeting that the violent and hateful nature symbolized by the noose is unsettling, unacceptable and deserves a robust response from the unions and associations,” Tory said in a written statement.

Two nooses were first reported back in June on a construction site at Michael Garron Hospital. Another noose was found at a different construction site on Bay Street and then a fourth one in the Regent Park neighbourhood, again at a construction site. A fifth noose was reported at a construction site on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT project in July.

Toronto police have been investigated all the incidents as hate crimes.

Following these events, Tory said he was committed to addressing anti-Black racism within the industry. In addition to holding a meeting with the construction unions, Tory also held meetings last week with senior executives of building and construction companies in Toronto.

The mayor said both the companies and the unions called this issue a “priority.”

“Both have indicated their strong concern arising out of the extremely troubling incidents of anti-Black racism seen on construction sites across the city.,” Tory’s statement reads.

Tory said the parties also discussed ways to ensure the workplaces were more “equitable and inclusive,” adding that construction unions and labour organizations are “well advanced” on initiatives such as an inclusive workplaces charter and a broad acceptance of a “zero-tolerance policy against racism and discrimination.”

No further examples were given, but the mayor said he is confident the construction industry will “lead the charge” on tackling racism and will announce initiatives in the future.

“These meetings are only the first steps of many to follow in eradicating anti-Black racism within all parts of our city, Tory’s statement reads.

“I am committed to continuing these conversations with the building and construction industry and other industries as we continue to aggressively address this challenge.”