As this challenging year draws to a close we take a look back on some of the notable events that took place.
While we celebrated the second inauguration of the first Black president of the United States in January, Barack Obama has nonetheless faced another tough year and has been dealing with the outcome of the fractious relationship between America’s main political parties and the glitches that marked the launch of his landmark health insurance program for Americans – among other challenges.
This year seemed to carry a frenzy of scandals here in Canada, including at the national level questions about the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) handling of the Senate expense scandal, now being referred to by some as “Duffy-gate”. Former Conservative Senator Mike Duffy was a central figure in this controversial affair which involved important figures in the Prime Minister’s Office giving or lending some $90,000 to Duffy so that he could repay travel and living expense claims he made improperly. Along with Duffy, former Conservative Senators Patrick Brazeau, Pamela Wallen and Liberal Mac Harb (who has since left the Chamber) were caught up in this controversy, which does not appear to be going away.
Toronto became the butt of jokes worldwide because of the antics of Mayor Rob Ford, who finally admitted, months after the Toronto Star released a report of the existence of a video allegedly showing Ford in a crack house using an illegal substance, that he did indeed smoke crack cocaine.
Within our local Black community many milestones were cause for celebration or reflection.
Among our top stories this year is the now $200-million class action lawsuit filed against the Toronto Police Service Board, Chief Blair and agencies of the province by the Black Action Defence Committee (BADC) on behalf of all those who have been unduly carded. BADC has filed a similar $125-million suit that names the Peel police.
Another top story affecting this community which you would not see in the mainstream press but which was reported in Share is the Health Services Appeal and Review Board’s landmark August 16 decision that allowed migrant workers an extension of their provincial health insurance (OHIP) in cases of medical emergencies. The review board also affirmed the decision after the Government of Ontario tried to appeal the initial decision made earlier in the year. This case pertained to injured farm workers Kenroy Williams and Denville Clarke who were among nine Jamaican migrant workers in their employer’s van when it swerved to avoid an oncoming car. They received serious injuries, yet their employer had attempted to return both men to Jamaica before they could receive adequate health care. This made the review board’s decision a truly significant victory, as justice was served.
Early in the year, Michael Coteau, MPP for Don Valley East, who was formerly a public school trustee, was appointed Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in the new Kathleen Wynne cabinet. Wynne, just a month earlier, in January, became the first female to head the province.
Couteau later announced a program in which the province is partnering with employers to develop more immigrant job opportunities, the kind of support that is much need.
Share is where readers found out that Ontario Court of Appeal judge Michael Tulloch, who was born in Jamaica, and Guyanese-born social activist Narine Dat Sookram were among Canada’s top 25 immigrants this year, selected from a field of 600 nominations. The award is sponsored by Canadian Immigrant magazine and the Royal Bank of Canada. And Halifax teenager Habiba Cooper-Diallo was recognized among Canada’s Top-20 Under-20 by the charitable organization Youth in Motion for, among other activities, her work to support women’s health in Ethiopia. Share also reported on the selection of Barbadian-born Peter Fenty becoming the Anglican Church of Canada’s first Black Bishop.
Finally, the world lost a great leader with the passing of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela. As the New Year approaches, we pray that his legacy will continue to benefit his people and our world.
As has been the case over the years, many of the stories we carried in Share did not appear anywhere else, thanks to a great team who really care about our community.
Here’s wishing everyone a blessed and safe 2014.