News / Toronto

'We need to get at the decision-making table': Group wants more Black representation in politics

Members of Operation Black Vote Canada are working to help increase the representation of Black leaders in all levels of government across the country. The group will hold a summit this weekend.

Members of Operation Black Vote Canada at last summer's Black Women's Political Summit.

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Members of Operation Black Vote Canada at last summer's Black Women's Political Summit.

Toronto is now a city where minority groups make up the majority, but one non-profit wants to boost their presence at the decision-making table.

Members of Operation Black Vote Canada are working to help increase the representation of Black leaders in all levels of government across the country. At a political summit in Toronto this weekend, young people will share information about volunteering on political campaigns and existing career opportunities in public office.

It's part of an effort to address the frequent gap in Black representation on the political scene, said Velma Morgan, a former political staffer and the group's current president.

She said the gap may be due to people not actively recruiting staff from the Black community or it may be that Black people don't know those jobs exist.

"So this summit will hopefully give them an idea of what the jobs entail and the types of qualifications they need to apply," Morgan said.

Operation Black Vote Canada helped organize the Black Women's Political Summit earlier this summer in Toronto, looking at why Black women weren't running for political office.

Morgan said the representation of minority groups will continue to take centre stage, especially now that the population is growing. According to the latest numbers from Statistics Canada, Toronto is now home to more than three million people who identify as members of a visible minority. According to the report, 442,020 Torontonians are Black.

"We need to get at the decision-making table. That's where decisions are being made that affect us, our parents and our kids," Morgan said.

She noted that there are three MPPs and two cabinet ministers who are Black at the provincial level, while federally there are six Black MPs. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen is the first Black member of cabinet since Jean Augustine in 2004.

"The more diverse voices and experiences we have, the better the policies and laws will be for our society," Morgan added.

The Operation Black Vote Canada political summit takes place Saturday at City Hall, starting at 1 p.m. Speakers include Yanique Williams from the International Trade Ministry, Ariel Gough from Social Development Canada and Casper Hall from the Anti-Racism Directorate.

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