The advancement of Ontario’s Racial Equity in the Education System Act to third reading has alarmed critics, who say the legislation would entrench critical race theory (CRT) in schools and could lead to its adoption across Canada.
Bill 67 defines “anti-racism” as “the policy of opposing racism including anti-Indigenous racism, anti-Black racism, anti-Asian racism, antisemitism and Islamophobia,” without naming whites.
It requires every school board to establish a “racial equity plan” for all of its schools, and sets out “anti-racism and racial equity requirements that apply to every college of applied arts and technology and every university that receives ongoing operating funds from the government for the purposes of post-secondary education.”
Brian Giesbrecht, senior fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and a retired judge, says the bill is “the Canadian version of the critical race theory dogma now being forced on American parents.” He notes that CRT contradicts the hope of Martin Luther King Jr., who said in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech that people should be judged “by the content of their character, not by the colour of their skin.”
This view is shared by Queen’s University law professor Bruce Pardy, who says CRT’s subtle language confuses people and that what King advocated was “non-racism,” the opposite of “anti-racism.”
Anti-racism “means discriminating on the basis of race,” Pardy told The Epoch Times, while “non-racism is the belief that race does not matter—that people should be treated equally under the law as human beings regardless of their race.”
The language subtlety apparently misled a lawmaker who would normally be opposed to the bill. Ontario Party MPP Rick Nicholls, who voted in favour of Bill 67, later said he had made a “significant, unintentional error.”
In a commentary, Nicholls wrote: “I find discrimination motivated by race, sex, or creed disgusting. When I voted in favour of the bill, I thought the bill stood against these things that I and my fellow Ontarians find evil. But it doesn’t. In fact, it promotes them.”
Racial Equity Plan
The bill requires every school to implement the racial equity plan established by its school board. It mandates a system for reporting racism, defined as “the use of socially constructed ideas of race to justify or support, whether consciously or subconsciously, the notion that one race is superior to another.” Those who use racist language or engage in racist activities could be fined $200.
The legislation would also “provide programs, interventions or other supports for students, teachers, and staff” who are victims, witnesses, or perpetrators of racism.
The bill was introduced by NDP MPP Laura Mae Lindo on Dec. 2, 2021. It was debated on March 2, and after receiving nearly unanimous support, was passed to the social policy committee for further discussion on March 3.
“You have to actually change legislation, because legislation and policies perpetuate racism,” Lindo, who worked as director of diversity and equity at Wilfred Laurier University before being elected in 2018, said in the legislature on March 2.
New Blue Party MPP Belinda Karahalios was the only MPP who voted against the bill.
“I am one of the few MPPs at Queen’s Park who is a woman of mixed ethnicity and recognized by the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, and fighting racism is something we should strive for. But the details of Bill 67 are based on the dangerous ‘woke’ political ideology of critical race theory and do nothing to fight racism in education,” Karahalios told The Epoch Times in an email.
Calling it “a costly ‘big government’ bill that is designed to vilify our education system and our history as being systemically racist,” she said that “it attacks, intimidates, and seeks to punish by giving bureaucrats ‘police like’ powers to fine ordinary Ontarians, including our children, for language deemed unacceptable in our school system.”
Enforcing Ideology Vs Improving Education
Pardy noted that American professor Ibram Kendi, a leading anti-racism proponent, “says that to make society ‘equitable,’ whites must be punished. They must be denied equal treatment and be made to pay for past historical wrongs.”
While CRT “attacks white people as inherently racist,” Pardy says it’s “even more insulting and damaging to the people it claims to champion.”
“It is based upon the disparaging and patronizing idea that people of colour can’t succeed on their own. It proposes to lower expectations, to compensate, to do for them what they are unable to do for themselves,” he said.
Vancouver Island University liberal and political studies professor David Livingstone says the legislation’s introduction reveals how influential the ideas of Kendi and author Robin DiAngelo have become. He believes the bill would enforce an ideology, not improve education.
“Part of the problem is precisely that the provincial faculties of education have a monopoly on training Canadian teachers. So as the education faculties get taken over by certain ideological trends, they simply pass that on to the future teachers. Those teachers eventually become principals and then curriculum advisers, and then the cycle continues,” Livingstone told The Epoch Times.
“‘Anti-racism’ seems to be code for ‘you must sing from Ibram X. Kendi’s songbook of anti-racism and no other,’” he said. “[But] for education systems that purport to develop independent minds and critical thinking, this represents the opposite. It’s just sheer conformity. It has nothing to do with thinking critically about the issues.”
Livingstone cited Columbia University English professor John McWhorter, who said DiAngelo’s book “White Fragility”—a term referring to white people’s defensive reactions in response to discussions on racism—is “one of the worst books ever written.”
CRT in Practical Terms
David Haskell, a professor of religion and culture at Wilfred Laurier, says CRT is one among a broader list of what’s called critical theories that condemn whites, Christians, and males as oppressors, and the sociological effect is to aggravate racial tensions and make people less sympathetic to impoverished whites.
“What [Bill 67] would do is amplify the racial division in our schools, because it mandates that teachers, to advance, even to be hired, must promote these discriminatory ideas,” he said in an interview.
The bill would create classrooms where feelings trump facts, he said. By illustration, he said a teacher would be disciplined for presenting studies by black Harvard academic Roland Fryer that statistically disprove the notion that police are more likely to use lethal force against blacks than whites.
Haskell likens CRT to a left-wing religion in its societal effect. For example, students have dropped his public speaking course after being asked to explore the other side of an issue and write a speech based on empirical evidence when the other side is “what would be called the non-dominant cultural position, which tends to be the conservative position.”
“They simply refuse to do it, even though it’s only an academic exercise,” he said.
Mandating ‘Institutions of Inquisition’
Haskell said a tweet in February by Teneile Warren, an equity and inclusion officer at the Waterloo Region District School Board, illustrates how CRT can negatively characterize white people.
“WPs are scared right now. History is paved with white-led violence almost always in the name of ‘freedom.’ WPs built a system on the narrative that these acts of violence were well intentioned & necessary. The system is (sic) never stops it because this is how it fuels itself,” Warren tweeted.
In the latter, Peterson called the bill “the most pernicious and dangerous piece of legislation that any Canadian government has attempted to put forward,” and said “if it passes, the rest of the provinces in Canada will follow suit.”
“[It’s] based on the idea that all our extant institutions are racist, sexist, and discriminatory,” he said.
“Bill 67 will mandate the creation of institutions of inquisition in every educational institution to which anyone who has an opinion or undertakes an action that is perceived to violate the tenets of critical theory will be made necessarily subject to punishment.”