This Sunday, a march has been scheduled by the Halton Hills Alliance for Social Change in support of Black Lives Matter. While I am unable to attend, I wanted to voice my support to the Halton Hills Alliance for Social Change and Black Lives Matter.

Over the past several weeks, we have all been affected by the killings of and violence against Black and Indigenous Canadians, and other minorities. The videos have been painful and difficult to watch.

Racism is real, painful and unacceptable. In a free and democratic society, no one should be discriminated against or targeted because of the colour of their skin.

All Canadians, regardless of race, religion or creed, have the right to live their lives in freedom and without fear.

Canada has benefited immensely from great Black Canadians who overcame prejudice and discrimination to serve their communities and make Canada a better country: Lincoln Alexander, elected in 1968, was the first black member of Parliament and went on to become the first black cabinet minister; Josiah Henson escaped slavery to become a thriving businessman in Ontario; and, Viola Desmond challenged segregation in Nova Scotia.

Black Canadians throughout history have not just contributed here at home; they have also represented Canada with excellence on the world stage. Harry Jerome, represented Canada in three Olympic Games, winning a medal for Canada in 1964. Throughout our history, Black Canadians have put their lives on the line for their fellow citizens, bravely serving around the world in our armed forces.

While there are many things we can be proud of as Canadians, we are far from perfect. We are not immune to the threat of racism. Canada has had its own dark episodes of racism that continue to this day. Every day, there are Canadians who experience discrimination or racism.

In addition to the recent violence against Black and Indigenous Canadians, we have seen a troubling spike in anti-Asian racism during this pandemic. In the last several years, attacks and hate crimes against Muslim Canadians have increased. Anti-Semitism continues to be an ongoing problem in Canada.

In a free and democratic society like Canada, there is absolutely no room for intolerance or racism of any kind. We are not born believing we are better than one another. Racism is a learned behaviour and we must constantly remind ourselves and others that we are all created equal.

Canada is built on the foundations of democratic institutions, the rule of law, and our rights and freedoms. We must continue to guard against the erosion of these rights and freedoms that are threatened by racism and all forms of brutality and injustice – both here and abroad. Minority rights must be protected. Freedom of religion must be protected. Freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest must be protected.

As the son of a Chinese immigrant father and a Dutch immigrant mother, I understand the experience of those who face racial discrimination and prejudice. I entered public life to fight for a better Canada where all Canadians, regardless of race, religion or creed can live in freedom and prosperity, free of discrimination and prejudice. I will continue that fight for a better Canada.