Politicians expressed outrage and EllisDon president and CEO Geoff Smith reiterated his firm’s commitment to stamp out racism after a fifth incident of racism was uncovered at a Toronto–area construction site last week.
Two nooses were found at an EllisDon jobsite, Michael Garron Hospital, on Sept. 24. It was the fifth incident at a Toronto jobsite since June, and the second at the Michael Garron project.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford addressed the latest incident at his Sept. 25 media conference.
“I find it absolutely disgusting,” he said. “When they catch this person, and the police are going to catch him, you will find out it is maybe one or two bad actors, they will face the consequences.
“There is not room, I have no tolerance, in Ontario for any racism. I don’t care what racism it is, there is zero tolerance for that and I won’t stand for it.
“We are going to catch this person and bring him to justice.”
Smith referred to nine different steps the firm is taking to tackle racism in addressing the latest incident.
“Let’s be clear, this is the handiwork of one or two racist criminals. Every other worker and leader is appalled at their hatred and cowardice,” wrote Smith in a statement. “These individuals are unfortunately comfortable in the knowledge that on a heavily populated and constantly changing construction site, they will be hard to identify. But I want to send a clear message: We will not stop until you are found, charged and permanently evicted from our industry.”
Smith said EllisDon is working closely with the Toronto Police Service and will be upgrading the security and surveillance at its sites to catch the perpetrators.
“We are also reaching out directly to the local community to ensure their concerns are being addressed and to embrace their co–operation.
“EllisDon acknowledges that systemic racism in the construction industry is real and — with our partner unions and subcontractors — we have initiated both long– and short–term measures to root it out wherever it lies, and eliminate it. This will take time and sustained effort by many people, but we have already begun, and we will succeed.”
Toronto councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam tweeted, “The hangman’s noose is a potent symbol of hate and racist violence and the individual(s) leaving them at construction sites is sending us a message. Our response should be unified, passionate and loud. Racism and hate have no place in our city. #EndRacism.”
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