Talking about diversity without addressing inclusion, access and equity is useless, says media practitioner and Toronto Police Service Board member, Hamlin Grange.
“Diversity is easy, but the other stuff is hard and messy and you got to get down in the trenches,” he said in his keynote presentation at last week’s mayoral debate at the University of Toronto.
“Despite a host of policies designed to make Toronto more inclusive and essentially capitalize on the city’s motto, ‘Diversity is Our Strength’, our elected officials and leaders are still not reflective of the new future of Toronto and a growing segment of our population feels excluded from opportunity…I would like Toronto to be seen as a model for access, equity and inclusion. That’s the gold standard we should be aiming for.”
Mayoral candidate Rocco Achampong knows what it’s like to be excluded from the mainstream. He’s not part of the six televised City TV debates featuring the highest profiled candidates.
“I am excluded from the one major debate that gives everybody else an unfair advantage because it reaches the whole city,” said the 31-year-old Rexdale-raised lawyer. “You will see me at all the debates going forward, but you will never see me on TV.”
Equity for Toronto and the Good Jobs for All Coalition hosted last week’s debate to get a better idea of the mayoral candidates’ position on building a fair Toronto for all.
“I want to say how happy I am to finally see a debate on equity issues which I care about,” said community activist and Upper Canada Law Society bencher, Avvy Go. “For the past few weeks, I have been feeling really depressed because it seems like the mayoral race has been one to the bottom because of one particular candidate coming out with a particular platform talking about tax cuts, waste management, immigration shut out and everybody else, it seems, is trying to rush to the bottom along with him.”
Good Jobs for All Coalition co-chair Tam Goossen said ensuring that public services are planned, managed and delivered in a way that ensures they are accessible to everyone is a top election issue for her group and its supporters.
“We have elected officials who are cutting funding to services such as the TTC,” she added. “We also have politicians who are threatening to privatize our assets, like Toronto Hydro. But slashing budgets and selling off services to be run for profit is no way to address our city’s inequalities.”
Equity Toronto and the Good Jobs for All Coalition are affiliated with nearly 70 organizations, including unions, social service agencies, environmental, social justice and community groups.