Sunday, May 01, 2005

Racism in Canada

Earlier today, I was shocked to read a troubling story in the Globe and Mail about a large commercial vegetable farm, "Centre Maraîcher Eugène Guinois Jr.", in Quebec that was cited by the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal for applying racist segregationist policies at their farm. Here is a link to another article (in French) from a different newspaper that goes into a bit more detail.

According to the Globe and Mail article, black workers were subject to regular workplace hostility, forced to eat in a separate cafeteria from white workers, made to use toilets so filthy the cleaning staff refused to enter them, and when eating outside, relegated to picnic tables located near the toilets. The "whites-only" cafeteria was fully furnished, while the "blacks-only" cafeteria was substandard, with no heat, sinks, running water, microwave, refrigeration facilities, or proper toilets. This one paragraph from the Globe and Mail article sums things up nicely:

Even company supervisors admitted the facilities for black workers were sub par. In her defence testimony in front of Judge Pauzé, Jocelyne Guinois, the owner's daughter, said the cafeteria didn't have a sink, soap or even running water, but had several hoses outside that the workers could use. She said the extra cafeteria was constructed specifically for day labourers, partly because "white workers complained that their food smelled bad."

"Several hoses outside that workers could use"..... WHAT THE HELL?! These workers are humans, not cattle.

I remember a few years ago watching the movie Mississippi Burning and thinking to myself how lucky I was to be born in Canada where we did not have these types of problems. Sadly, it seems I was just deluding myself.

While the judge was particularly harsh in her words in her judgment, the penalty she assessed was a mere slap on the wrist for these racist scum: just $12,500 Canadian dollars for one plaintiff, and $10,000 for another. Here in the United States, the judgment would have been in the millions for something this egregious.

The scum who own and manage this commercial farm are a total disgrace: a disgrace to Canada, a disgrace to Quebec, and a disgrace to everyone who buys and eats their produce. I say that people need to hit them where it hurts: in the wallet. If you care about this issue, you just need to call the headquarters for your local supermarket and ask them if they or their suppliers buy their carrots or lettuce from "Centre Maraîcher Eugène Guinois Jr.", refer them to a copy of this Globe and Mail article, and suggest that they should buy their vegetables elsewhere. For me, I hate racism, and I would not want to know that the money I was spending on groceries was going to fund it.

There's nothing like a good old-fashioned boycott to get the point across.

[Update - May 3, 2005]

Here are some links to grocery store contact forms and emails for anyone who would like to drop them a note about this issue. Just click on the link below, type what you want to say (including a link to this post or one of the newspaper articles listed above if you like), and click submit. If enough people do this, I think it will get the attention of these grocery store chains.

A&P (Canada & USA): Also owns several other brands including Dominion and Food Basics.
Pathmark (USA)
Stop & Shop (USA)
Costco (Canada & USA)
Publix (USA)
Winn-Dixie (USA)
Loblaws (Canada): also owns Zehrs

If anyone can think of any more, please post a comment and I'll update the list.