Ontario NDP candidates in Toronto are calling on Doug Ford's cabinet minister, Stephen Lecce, to withdraw from the election following reports of him participating in a "slave auction" when he was a student at Western University.
"The legacy of slavery, colonialism and white supremacy still lives on in our institutions and in the generational trauma people of African-descent continue to face every day," a joint statement from NDP candidate for Toronto—St. Paul’s, Dr. Jill Andrew, NDP candidate for York South—Weston Faisal Hassan, and NDP candidate for Kitchener Centre Dr. Laura Mae Lindo, reads.
"Mr. Lecce chose to lead and participate in events that mocked and trivialized this painful history. He also chose to conceal them for years as a public official, as a Minister charged with the education, opportunity and wellbeing of Black students and as the person tasked with overseeing the province’s investigations into anti-Black racism in schools. All of these actions are repulsive and constitute clear anti-Black racism."Joint statement from NDP candidates
The statement goes on to call for Lecce to withdraw as a candidate for his office, or be removed by Ford.
"Under no circumstances should the people of this province, or even more alarmingly our children, be represented by him at this time," the statement reads.
"Slavery is not a joke. Engaging in racist, dehumanizing actions cannot be allowed to be another case of 'boys will be boys.' Black Ontarians deserve so much better from their elected officials and their governments."
We called the @OntarioPCParty on the phone and told them we wanted to give @Sflecce a chance to clarify his views on this “slave auction.” We gave them our number. They assured us they were going to get back to us.
Several hours later, we’re still waiting for Lecce’s response. https://t.co/GsbF8LkrpJ
— Luke LeBrun (@_llebrun) May 11, 2022
Lecce issued a statement apologizing for his involvement in the "slave auction" event when he was a university student, initially reported on the PressProgress website.
"The event from 2006 was inappropriate and in no way reflects who I am as a person, which is why I unreservedly apologize," he said in the statement.
"I will continue to passionately advance the interests of all Ontarians — irrespective of faith, heritage, orientation or race."
Several Ontarians have also taken to social media to respond
Good morning to everyone except @Sflecce and @WesternU, a university that proves it’s harmful for everyone but white men. @WesternU has always been known as the racist one and now they’ve removed any doubt! Good morning to @pressprogress: https://t.co/Agdq4vABYa
— Erica Ifill (@wickdchiq) May 11, 2022
Hosting a slave auction in 2006 is more than “inappropriate”.
How can we trust you to address anti-Black racism in schools if can’t say the word? If you make this about YOU and your growth instead of the community?
We. Deserve. Better. https://t.co/V2voHSCpln
— Laura Mae Lindo (@LauraMaeLindo) May 11, 2022
Minister Lecce willingly participated in an event that minimized slavery & trivialized its brutality & harmful impacts. How can someone who does not have a clear understanding of anti-Black racism be responsible for implementing education policies that are intended to disrupt it? https://t.co/r3Jh1BOvr5
— Karen Brown (@ETFOpresident) May 11, 2022