• Fri. Dec 8th, 2023

Car Auto Insurance

It's My Car Car Auto Insurance

Stephen Lecce apologizes for fraternity ‘slave auction’

On a rocky day for his Progressive Conservatives, Doug Ford was laying low.

Ford stayed out of the spotlight Wednesday as the New Democrats were demanding the resignation of Conservative MPP Stephen Lecce, who apologized for being part of a “slave auction” when he was a university student.

Lecce, the education minister in the Tory government, participated in the fraternity charity fundraiser while attending Western University 16 years ago.

“The event from 2006 was inappropriate and in no way reflects who I am as a person, which is why I unreservedly apologize,” the first-term Vaughan MPP said in a statement Wednesday.

“I will continue to passionately advance the interests of all Ontarians — irrespective of faith, heritage, orientation or race.”

The furor dominated the June 2 election campaign the day after the first leaders’ debate Tuesday in North Bay.

While NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca, and Green Leader Mike Schreiner met with reporters on the hustings, Ford ducked the media.

The Conservative leader canvassed without the scrutiny of accompanying press cameras in four Toronto ridings — two in Etobicoke, one in North York and one in Scarborough.

That prompted Del Duca to accuse Ford of a “peek-a-boo, missing-in-action campaign strategy” after his northern debate performance.

“When you’re running to be premier of this province, to go into hiding I think is completely unacceptable,” said the Liberal leader.

“I suspect Doug Ford’s embarrassed about his record over the past four years — and goodness knows he should be — but you’ve got to face the music on election campaigns.”

Del Duca suggested Ford was also keeping a low profile Wednesday to avoid questions about why some Tory MPPs supplemented their six-figure salaries with riding association funds.

Lisa MacLeod, who earns $165,851 as tourism minister, received $44,000 between 2018 and 2020 from her Nepean PC riding association for living expenses.

Several other Tory MPPs tapped into taxpayer-subsidized funds to boost their pay, including Kaleed Rasheed, now the associate minister of digital government, who got $23,000 from the Mississauga East-Cooksville PC association.

The PC campaign defended the MPPs, noting “all riding association expenses are approved by the local riding association executive, audited by a licensed auditor, and all audited financial statements are reviewed and approved by Elections Ontario.”

Ford will return to campaigning in front of the media on Thursday with stops in Kitchener, Cambridge, London, Chatham, and Windsor.

He will do so as revelations about the MPPs’ riding payouts and Lecce’s university antics left the Tories reeling, despite their lead in every public opinion poll.

Sources told the Star that the Vaughan MPP was a second-year Western student and member of the Sigma Chi fraternity when he was “auctioned off” to serve as a chef for a night to raise funds for the Children’s Miracle Network.

Western officials emphasized the university had no involvement in the fraternity event.

After a report published Tuesday night in Press Progress, a news website funded by the left-leaning Broadbent Institute, the NDP said Lecce should step down as a PC candidate.

Campaigning in Brampton, where she promised lower auto insurance rates if elected next month, Horwath said she “stands by” her party’s Black caucus statement urging Lecce to resign.

“The trans-Atlantic slave trade is one of the most horrific chapters of human history. Upwards of 12 million enslaved Africans were ripped from their homes and transported across the Atlantic to the Americas between the 16th and the 19th century,” the NDP Black caucus statement said.

“Mr. Lecce chose to lead and participate in events that mocked and trivialized this painful history,” the statement continued.

“He also chose to conceal them for years as a public official, as a minister charged with the education, opportunity and well-being 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.”

The Green leader, meanwhile, said he was “disgusted to learn of revelations that Stephen Lecce participated in a slave auction fundraiser while in university.”

“It is blatantly racist and wrong,” said Schreiner. “The behaviour is reprehensible, unacceptable, appalling and has no place.”

Del Duca called the imbroglio “deeply troubling” and “reprehensible,” but said it was not his place to call on Lecce “to resign his candidacy.”

“I haven’t been impacted by racism in my life … It’s up to the people who are directly and negatively impacted and have been for far too long by this kind of behaviour to judge and assess whether or not the apologies are sufficient,” the Liberal leader added.

The disclosure could be seen as undermining Lecce’s record of combating anti-Black racism as education minister.

He was lauded for ending what he called the “systemic, racist, discriminatory” practice of Grade 9 streaming in schools, and intervened in the Peel board to tackle racism and dysfunction there, as well as in the troubled York board.

Still, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, an education union that has repeatedly criticized Lecce, said the fraternity fundraiser “raises serious concerns about the minister’s understanding of anti-Black racism and his ability to serve and support students, education workers, and families, particularly those who identify as Black.”


By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *