Councillor’s op-ed piece on Black History Month called “racist, irresponsible” by Pickering Mayor
Published February 6, 2024 at 9:00 am
Pickering Mayor Kevin Ashe has taken Ward 1 Councillor Lisa Robinson to task over an “inflammatory” opinion piece she penned last week in an Oshawa publication in which she called Black History Month just politicians “hypocritically championing a people’s contribution throughout history” to “get Afro-Canadian votes.”
Ashe called Robinson’s statements “racist, irresponsible and unethical” and called on the councillor to “reflect” and offer a “sincere apology” to the community.”
“To suggest that celebrating Black History Month is somehow divisive is contrary to the concepts of equity that we all aspire to uphold,” Ashe said in an address at the end of Monday’s Executive Committee meeting. “From the underground railroad, where people were offered refuge to those seeking freedom, to the contributions of the #2 Construction Battalion of World War 1, the Black community has played an integral role in shaping the fabric of our nation.”
“To dismiss the celebration of Black History Month is to try to erase the significant contributions of people who, despite historical adversity, have left an indelible mark on the development and richness of our society.”
Robinson’s rant in the Oshawa Central was filled with grammatical errors and provocative statements, including the bon mot that those who champion equity are of “limited intellect” who “confuse the meaning of equality with the attempt to denounce in the name of punishing everyone for their psychological insecurity stemming from race.”
“This scares me,” said, assuring readers of the piece she was not “prejudice” or discriminatory.
Robinson also brought up the “modern slavery” comment that got her in hot water last year (she was suspended without pay twice in 2023 for 90 days total for her conduct) and doubled down on her claim that she was a victim.
“For anyone to become upset or insulted over MODERN DAY SLAVERY … is pure insanity.”
Robinson, who called celebrating Black History Month in itself “racist,” said Canada has “come a long away” and insisted this country does not have “other nation’s race history,” while at the same time she acknowledged in her diatribe the racism in Canada’s past.
“Are we, by celebrating in segregation, only reminding everyone of a dark place in North American history?”
To which Ashe answered yes, Councillor, that is kind of the point.
“This is exactly why we need a Black History Month,” said an exasperated Ashe, who said there was a “degree of urgency” in delivering his speech as soon as possible after the publication of Robinson’s rant.
“Her words have caused concern in this community (and) the sentiments expressed in the opinion piece run counter to the values that we as a Council collectively champion.”
“It is disheartening to witness such a display of insensitivity to Blach History Month at a time when we should be celebrating the rich contributions of Afro-Canadians to our community.”
“I am shocked it was released.”
Robinson’s response was only that it was not her intention to offend and she hoped than “no Black people feel my words are inflammatory.”
“I just want to bring unity.”
Robinson also caught fire just prior to Ashe’s speech from Regional Councillor David Pickles over her insistence that homeless people and those suffering from drug addiction are being “counselled” by doctors and nurses in shelters about assisted suicide.
“They are not,” Pickles said more than once. Robinson did not seem convinced.
Councillor Maurice Brenner described the atmosphere at the end of the meeting as “wild” and said he expected plenty of negative fallout from Robinson’s comments.
Robinson did not offer an apology in the Central in the chambers Monday but was heard shouting “I do get it, Mr. Mayor!” as the meeting ended and her colleagues were heading out the door.
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