Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday announced a new $ 221 million entrepreneurship program for black Canadians, the Liberals’ first major move to fight anti-black racism since the summer, when Trudeau and the prime ministers condemns racial discrimination in Canada.

Trudeau unveiled the program alongside Small Business Minister Mary Ng and Liberal MP Greg Fergus, who chairs the Black Parliamentary Caucus, in Toronto at HXOUSE, which describes itself as an incubator for entrepreneurial innovation and creativity.

The prime minister said that during his government’s work on economic development, he found that young black entrepreneurs face additional barriers in accessing investment capital.

“We had to turn the tide,” Trudeau said. “Investing in black businesses is an incredible way to create wealth and prosperity for everyone. “

Of the total new investments to which Canadian banks are contributing, just over two-fifths – $ 93 million – will be distributed by the federal government. This includes $ 53 million to create a new “National Ecosystem Fund,” which will give black business owners access to finance and business services.

An additional $ 33.3 million will be distributed through a new “Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund,” through which black business owners can receive between $ 25,000 and $ 250,000 in loans. Up to $ 6.5 million will be used to create a “Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Center” to collect data on black entrepreneurs, including the types of barriers to success they face.

Federal funding for the program, the first of its kind, will be spread over four years. After that, Trudeau said the government would assess the non-monetary challenges that still exist for black entrepreneurs.

The country’s largest banks will provide the additional $ 128 million in loans.

In June, Trudeau and provincial and territorial leaders signed an anti-racist declaration condemning all forms of racism and discrimination, including anti-black, anti-indigenous and anti-Asian racism and hatred, as well as anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. In the statement, Trudeau and the premiers agreed to fight racism and share best practices.

READ MORE: Premiers disagree on use of “systemic racism” in anti-racist statement: Trudeau

In early June, Trudeau and Family and Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen, the only black cabinet member, was joined by other cabinet ministers, and MP Fergus, at an anti-racism demonstration on Parliament Hill to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States

Trudeau and his MPs joined the participants on their knees for eight minutes and 46 seconds in memory of George Floyd, a black man who died on May 25 in Minneapolis after a police officer knelt by his neck during that time.

As Trudeau surprised protesters by joining their protest, NDP MP Niki Ashton tweeted that the Prime Minister was embarking on a “performative alliance” by marching against anti-black racism while refusing to end by carding or denouncing the racist comments and actions of US President Donald Trump.

Days earlier, Trudeau had refused to criticize Trump after anti-racist protesters were gassed outside the White House. Asked about Trump’s threat to use military force against such protesters, Trudeau paused for 21 seconds before saying, “We all watch in horror and dismay.” He did not comment on Trump.

Days after the protests on the Hill, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said more officers would soon be equipped with body cameras. Body cameras have had mixed results in reducing police violence in jurisdictions where they have been used extensively.

Later, responding to a call from the Parliamentarian Black Caucus to reduce systemic racism in Canada, which has been signed off by more than half of his cabinet, Trudeau said the government would “consider any ideas that we can adopt very soon to address the systemic discrimination that continues to exist in our country “.

READ MORE: Trudeau kneels during anti-racism protest, as pressure mounts on PM to act beyond convictions

In a statement, the group called for police, justice and corrections reforms, as well as targeted economic support for black-owned businesses and black entrepreneurs. The group also called for an end to mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes, which the Liberals promised to reconsider during the federal election campaign, but have yet to do so.

Another Liberal campaign promise that has not been kept so far is the doubling of funding for the anti-racist strategy unveiled last year. The $ 45 million government program “Building a Foundation for Change” provides a framework for a whole-of-government approach to tackling racism in public service and federal politics.

READ MORE: Liberal electoral promise to strengthen the anti-racism strategy, double funding is still not achieved

Trudeau admitted on Wednesday that there was “a lot more to do” to improve the justice system, public safety and work with the police, but said theconomic empowerment is an essential step forward.

With files from Jolson Lim.

More iPolitics


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.