Ignatieff’s hypocrisy regarding Black MPs

Dear Editor:

Re: Ron Fanfair’s article, “Jerome Award Recipients ‘Lifts Us Up'”, April 30, 2009. Am I the only one who found Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff’s comments at the Harry Jerome Awards estranged from truth when he lamented that Marlene Jennings was the only Black MP in the House of Commons.

This is the man whose political career was founded on the removal of Jean Augustine from Cabinet and then from the seat that she worked so hard to win as the first African Canadian woman to be elected to the federal parliament.

Jean Augustine made history. Michael Ignatieff’s ambitions cut her political career short. While public communiqués might tell you a different story, those in the know will tell you that Jean Augustine was forced from office by Liberal back room boys who wanted their white knight, Michael Ignatieff, to have a safe Liberal seat from which to launch his leadership campaign. Ms. Augustine wasn’t even allowed to attend a Cabinet swearing-in ceremony for fear her very presence would alert Black voters of what was being done to our representative.

If I read Ron Fanfair’s article correctly, Ignatieff was there to celebrate Harry Jerome, a runner in track and field. How odd he would dare show his face given that it was he who stopped Jean Augustine from running for office. The very purpose of these awards and others like it is to break the “pro-athlete-is-the-only-thing-you-Black-people-can-do” stereotype. How hypocritical that he would lament the lack of Black faces in the House of Commons when he and his cronies are responsible for removing a history making Black woman from office in their own party.

The Harry Jerome meal was exceptionally delicious. Michael Ignatieff’s professed respect for Jean Augustine and call for more Black politicians in Parliament was hard to swallow. What Ignatieff and company may not realize is that we have long memories. If he forces an election, we won’t forget him. Try as he might, he can’t run as fast as Harry Jerome and he can’t hide from his record.

Rob Davis

Trustee

Toronto Catholic District School Board

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