Categorized | Society

Brampton councillor under fire for racially insensitive email

Posted on 13 July 2017 by admin

Mayor Linda Jeffrey wants a fellow Brampton council member John Sprovieri to seek diversity training.

Mayor Linda Jeffrey is urging a fellow city council member to seek diversity training for an email he wrote that says newcomers to Canada should learn the values of white people.

“I find it disheartening to hear such insensitive language being used by a member of my council,” said Jeffrey, responding to an email exchange between Regional Councillor John Sprovieri and a Brampton resident, which contains derogatory and racially charged language.

Responding to Sheila Jacobson, the author of the email headed with the subject line “Why are WHITE PEOPLE still planning Brampton’s future?,” Sprovieri stated that white people of Canada had created “a great system where everyone is welcome and can live peacefully together.

“I hope that the newcomers will learn the values of the white people, so that Brampton and Canada will continue to be a favourite destination for people who want a better and peaceful lifestyle.”

In an interview, Sprovieri said his comments, which have garnered widespread media attention and ignited outrage in the community and on social media, may have been poorly communicated, “but are not entirely wrong.”

Sprovieri represents a predominately South Asian population in his east end ward and throughout his career has supported various initiatives in that community including the Khalsa Community School, a private Sikh school in Brampton.

But Jeffrey countered that Sprovieri crossed a line and suggested the veteran councillor has a track record of making inappropriate comments about race and culture.

“Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident,” said Jeffrey, who also stepped in following an incident in November 2014 where Sprovieri was slammed publicly for sharing jokes over email that perpetuate stereotypes about Jewish women. That email exchange in late 2014 also involved Jacobson.

 “I urge my colleague to seek some diversity training in order to better understand the role of multiculturalism in building our national fabric,” said Jeffrey in an email.

Jeffrey has presided over an intensely divisive council, which has been bogged down by personal political battles sparked, in part, by her inability to build consensus.

She took the helm at city hall during a period of unprecedented growth in Brampton and a huge shift in the city’s demographics and cultural makeup.

That growth has presented important challenges locally. Upon taking office, Jeffrey faced a major backlash for her push to remove recital of The Lord’s Prayer at the start of every council meeting.

She has also come under fire for not doing enough to promote diversity and equity within Peel Regional Police compared to her counterpart in Mississauga, Bonnie Crombie, who has taken on the issue publicly.

As a member of Peel Regional Police Services Board, Jeffrey, while supporting reforms to the organization, has been criticized for not being aggressive enough in bringing to an end the use of the controversial practice of street checks, which data suggests targets non-whites more than whites.

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