The Adventures of Diva Rachel: Don’t Break Out The Bubbly! Carding Continues Across Canada :-(

In Ontario (and elsewhere in Canada), race has been a factor in determining who rightfully belongs here, and who is, by default, an intruder to be wary of. Betraying Canada’s mantra of multiculturalism, a constant cloud of suspicion follows dark-skinned Canadian citizens every day. Whether they are walking while Black, driving while Black, flying while Black, banking while Black, bussing while black… People who look Aboriginal or Arab tell similar stories of being presumed risky guilty before being proven innocent.

All over Canada (not just in Toronto), police regularly stop law-abiding citizens in the hopes of finding a needle in a haystack gathering evidence or intelligence to supposedly reduce crime. There is no evidence to support this race-based targeting actually works, but the carding custom continues.

Carding is the practice by which law enforcement systematically stop, interrogate and document (mostly) dark-skinned citizens who are committing no crime and display no evidence of having committed a crime.

They coined the practice “stop-and-frisk” in the USA. Whatever the terminology employed, it’s called “racism”.

Notably, Ontario’s “activist” Premier Kathleen Wynne has sidestepped the issue. Wynne’s awkward silence follows a pattern of favouring her fetish demographics. Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau did one better: his cronies recruited former Toronto Police Chief and carding defender Bill Blair to run in the upcoming federal election. It will take tornado of spin for the “multiculturalism-inventing” Liberals to square that circle: Trudeau has been travelling the country while waving a banner of “fairness.”

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

One wonders when these elected leaders will frog-leap onto the right side of history.

Bravely breaking his counterparts’ deafening silence, deputy leader of the Ontario NDP Jagmeet Sing stood up and clearly verbalized his quest to quash carding, province-wide.

At first, former Progressive Conservative party leader and current Toronto Mayor John Tory didn’t seem bothered by bigotry behind the badge. In a stunning about-face enlightened evolution, Mayor Tory announced the end of carding in his city this week. As the congratulatory backslapping spread across the Center of the Universe Hogtown, the rest of the province and the rest of the country is left eating dust. For us, carding carries on.

Never put your hands up until the puck’s in the net and the goal light is on. Let’s see what happens in concrete terms with #carding #tps

— Anthony Morgan (@AnthonyNMorgan) June 7, 2015

Journalist Desmond Cole’s courageous and personal account of unrelenting and unwarranted police interrogations describes incidents in St. Catharines and Kingston. Neither are covered by this week’s partial victory.


It was in 1956 that Ontario became the first province to enforce the Fairness Accommodation Practices Act, thus granting new equality rights to its Black and Asian residents. For the first time in Canadian history, racial equality was declared a civil right, and “racial discrimination in was confirmed as illegal“. Following Ontario’s lead, legislative civil rights flowed outward from coast to coast.

Today, since our provincial leaders are not willing to defend the most vulnerable citizens and uphold the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, individuals have to band together to force the issue. Just as Rosa Parks Bromley Armstrong and Ruth Lor served as the test cases for racial equality 50 years ago, Rohan Roberts has stepped up to the plate to challenge carding in Ontario. In what could be a landmark case, Roberts filed Human Rights complaint against Toronto Police. The defendants have access to a bottomless till of taxpayer dollars to fund their retort. Roberts is a working class guy. In the pursuit of justice writ large, Mr. Roberts will sacrifice himself and his financial security in a bid to realign law enforcement with the values we hold dear. (I’ve launched a crowdfunding drive to help defray his legal bills.)

To eradicate carding in Canada, this case must be heard in the highest courts. Judges must remind all citizens, including mayors, premiers and prime-ministerial hopefuls that equality and fairness are more than filatures for flowery speeches. Mayor John Tory was pulled, prodded into doing the right thing. The first domino has fallen. But we’ve not yet reached the promise land.

The adventures of a Franco Ontarian Viz Min Woman in Ottawa.
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The Adventures of Diva Rachel: What, to the Visible Minority, is Labour Day? #CanLab #LabourDay

You wouldn’t know it from the tone of discourse today, but immigrants and foreign workers have been part of the Canadian labour force since Confederation. Then, much as now, they were necessary to ensure Canada’s economic survival. Nevertheless, 19th century immigrant workers were viewed with suspicion and contempt, assigned the most dangerous tasks and forced to work longer hours for significantly less pay than their white co-workers, whether Canadian-born or not. Chinese-Canadians are particularly sensitive to this historical blemish.

A Chinese work gang for the Great Northern Railway, circa 1909
Source: Beyond the golden mountain : Chinese cultural traditions in Canada
Ban Seng Hoe © Public Domain

The construction of the Intercolonial Railway was so central that it was written into the Constitution Act of 1867. As historian George Stanley wrote in The Canadians: “Bonds of steel as well as of sentiment were needed to hold the new Confederation together. Without railways there would be and could be no Canada.” And without imported Chinese labourers, there would be no railway.

In the days of yore, race rather than ability was the determining factor in wages. Thus, Chinese workers were paid half of the white man’s wages. There was no union to protect workers’ rights or to advocate for fair wages.

The burgeoning Canadian labour movement of the early 20th century held much promise for Canada’s racial minority workers. Sadly, their participation was less than welcome, their concerns discounted, and their representation within the movement limited.

By the 1920s, unions had formed in the rail business, thus improving the lives of workers. Even so, the low-waged sleeping car porter jobs, exclusively reserved for black men, fell outside the union’s umbrella.

A porter was subject to humiliation by being called “Boy” or “o’George” in reference to George Pullman, who invented the sleeping car. Although many porters were educated immigrants, they cleaned toilets, changed bed linens, served food and drink to the travelling Canadian public. They worked up to 72 hour shifts, allowed to sleep as little as three hours a night — without a proper bed.

Sleeping Car Porters. source

The porters’ efforts to join the existing rail workers union (Canadian Brotherhood of Railway Transport and General Workers) were thwarted — the white man’s union wasn’t interested in growing their numbers and widening its reach if it meant including people of colour. When the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters‘ Canadian branch was finally formed in 1945, working conditions improved. So much so that, by the 1960s, white Canadians took on these once-undesirable jobs.

“Many passengers were shocked to see white porters coming on at Winnipeg to take the transcontinental trains through to Vancouver. Things began to change for the better as Canada did not have enough black men to pigeonhole anymore.”

These days, Canadian immigrants and racial minorities continue to face labour market challenges. Particularly troubling is the inexplicably high incidence of un- and under-employment among minorities. Whether they face discrimination in their job search or career progression, one would imagine these to be issues of great concern for the Canadian Labour movement. Sadly, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), an umbrella organization of unions, claims to advocate on behalf of all working people. They also aspire to develop partnerships with the community. “Our goals are simple — what we wish for ourselves we desire for all.”

That includes equality rights and a respect for basic human rights. “We believe that unions are a positive force for democratic social change — and that by working together we can improve Canada for everyone.”

In the run-up to Labour Day, the CLC rolled out its “Union Advantage 2014” campaign. The campaign singled out two target demographics: young workers under 25 and women. Curiously, the release ignores the two groups most likely to encounter challenges finding employment and progressing in their careers — immigrants and visible minorities.

In its defense, the Labour movement has made strides: The federal Public Service made an effort, though unsuccessful. Canada’s largest private sector union, Unifor, as well as the CLC itself recently elected visible minorities to their top positions. CLC even plasters its website with pictures of racial minorities.

Despite mentioning neither immigrants nor racial minorities in its “Union Advantage” report, half the banner photos promoting it are of racial minority young men.

Alas, pretty pictures of diversity are almost as effective as ghost “Action Plans.”

One of the few research papers that examined immigrant and racial minority representation among Canadian unions singled out the labour organisations themselves as a possible cause for the poor outcome.

“The precise fraction of visible ethnic minorities was unknown in all the unions. Two unions estimated it in the range of 15 to 25 percent…Unions that have yet to implement policies and programs to increase minority participation and to improve the status of visible minorities within their unions have all generated action plans to achieve this goal.”
source: Immigration, Race, and Labor: Unionization and Wages in the Canadian Labor Market (2004)

Despite assurances made to the researchers, none of the major Canadian labour unions today publicly disclose stats on visible minority representation within their ranks. CLC makes no mention of labour market challenges facing immigrants and racial minorities in its annual report, let alone its effort at addressing diversity deficits both internally and among its affiliated organizations.

While stats from the unions themselves aren’t available, a look at the think tanks they’re affiliated with illustrates the demographic disconnect. The Broadbent Institute boasts zero racial minorities on either its Boards of Directors or among its staff. Ditto for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives‘ national office staff. Even their national conferences are glaringly monochromatic.

Every Labour Day, Canadians are called upon to “thank a union” for their good fortune. Regrettably, with perennial under-representation of minorities and their legitimate grievances, the Labour Movement gives Canada’s racial minorities little to be thankful for.

The adventures of a Franco Ontarian Viz Min Woman in Ottawa.
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The Adventures of Diva Rachel: La Banque du Canada dit non au reflet de la diversité sur les dollars -OU – La xénophobie structurelle à la Banque du Canada: le jupon qui dépasse

Quand la nouvelle est tombée l’été dernier que la Banque du Canada avait effectué un nettoyage ethnique dans les images imprimées sur la monnaie canadienne, le faux-pas a fait le tour du monde. Dans un focus group, certains intervenants xénophobes se sont insurgés contre l’image d’une femme aux traits asiatiques

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The Adventures of Diva Rachel: No Asians + No Blacks + no gays + no turbans + no aboriginals = No Canada -OR- BankOfCanada’s state sponsored xenophobia

The news of the ethnic cleansing of Canadian c-notes by the Bank of Canada hit like a bombshell last summer. It was revealed that an Asian-looking female figure was gentrified by the federal institution to appease Canadians who expressed xenophobic views in a focus group. The news went viral around

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