Ontario Premier Doug Ford refuses to apologize for comments on immigrants and ‘allowance’ – .

Ontario Premier Doug Ford refuses to apologize for comments on immigrants and ‘allowance’ – .

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announces funding for a new hospital in Windsor, Ontario on Monday, October 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS / Geoff Robins

Geoff Robins / The Canadian Press

Ontario Premier Doug Ford refuses to apologize for comments his critics say imply that some immigrants come to the province only to collect social assistance.

The opposition at Queen’s Park seized on comments made at a press conference this week in Tecumseh, Ont., Near Windsor, where the premier said Ontario needs more immigrants to face a labor shortage.

“You come here like all the other new Canadians have come here, you work your tail,” Ford said. “If you think you come and get the allowance and sit down, that won’t happen. Go somewhere else. You want to work, come here.

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Asked to apologize during Question Period by NDP MP Doly Begum for suggesting that some immigrants arrive for the sole purpose of receiving welfare, Ford refused to back down. (Newly arrived immigrants are not actually eligible for the province’s Ontario Works social assistance program until they have permanent resident status, which can take years.)

The premier told the legislature he was “pro-immigration from day one” and pointed to the multicultural crowds at the annual Ford Fest events hosted by him and his late brother Rob Ford when Rob was mayor of Toronto.

Mr Ford said he wrote to the prime minister asking for more immigrants to fill what he called 290,000 job vacancies, and also said the opposition voted against his government’s measures to build more affordable housing and highways, and fund new transit.

Ms Begum also asked the Premier what he would do to help the thousands of immigrants trained as doctors and nurses, or other professions, who were unable to work in their chosen fields in Ontario in because of barriers that prevent their credentials from being recognized. here.

But Mr. Ford hijacked the issue, telling the Legislature his phone had “exploded” with messages from immigrants who came to Ontario, worked hard, and succeeded.

“They told me story after story last night. A story tells how their parents came, their father worked in a gold mine to put him in school, for the university. Another person told me the story of their first dishwasher job. But guess what, Mr. Speaker, he now has his own restaurant, ”said Ford.

Debbie Douglas, executive director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, called the comments “xenophobic.” She said they reflect the unfounded belief that immigrants, refugees and migrant workers somehow come to take advantage of Ontario’s social safety net. She added that immigrant workers, especially black women, have played a key role in the pandemic, especially in the food industry and long-term care.

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“His comments landed as racist rhetoric,” she said. “I have the impression that the Prime Minister really does not understand why communities and the diversity of communities react the way they are.

Fareed Khan, founder of an advocacy group called Canadians Unite Against Hate, called Ford’s comments “unacceptable and dangerous” and said the Prime Minister should apologize.

“This is not only offensive, but it fuels racist tropes about immigrants and gives ammunition to those who trade in the ideology of hate and racism,” he said in a statement.

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Ford’s comments were “odious” and “racist” and that his Progressive Conservative Party has used the “dog whistle policy” in the past to send signals to supporters with intolerant views.

Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca told reporters Ford’s comments on immigrants were “very outdated” and “divisive” and the premier should let go of his “stubbornness” and apologize.

He said he wanted to believe that the Prime Minister was not sending a “code signal” to racist or potential anti-immigrant supporters, but that his remarks were offensive to thousands of immigrants for suggesting that they were not. did not wish to work hard.

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“I encourage Doug: Get out of the bubble, get out of the 1950s, take a look at modern Ontario. Be comfortable with it, support it and let’s move forward, ”said Mr. Del Duca.

Speaking in an announcement in Toronto earlier Tuesday, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said an apology was not necessary.

“What the Premier was actually saying is we need more immigrants to Ontario,” she said. ” We have a lot of work.

When asked if Mr Ford’s comments were offensive, Nina Tangri, his associate minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, and herself an immigrant, said she was proud of the prime minister and proud to be part of a government that wants to increase immigration.

“I think the Prime Minister was very clear when he said that we desperately need more people to come to Ontario,” she said.

Mr. Ford has a history of blundering and refusing to apologize for his mistakes. Early in his tenure as prime minister, he refused for three days to convict Faith Goldy, a white supremacist candidate for mayor of Toronto with whom he posed for a photo. This year, he declined to apologize for telling the Legislature that listening to Ms Horwath was like “nails on a board,” a remark many considered sexist.

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