In May of 1999, one of the Centre’s clients complained about an election poster that the Toronto Police Association had posted at a busy downtown subway station. The poster portrayed a group of Hispanic youth, identifying them as criminals. It urged voters to vote for law and order candidates in order to keep these people out of Toronto. Our Centre, together with other community groups and individuals, organized a protest against the poster. The City of Toronto, its Mayor, the Police Services Board, the Chief of Police, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission all condemned the poster and urged the Toronto Police Association to apologize.
Although the Police Association never had the integrity to apologize publicly, there was a happy outcome to this disgraceful event. The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) assumed responsibility for their part in the incident. In addition to apologizing and as a way to repair the damage, they donated $2000, so that young designers from our community could prepare an antiracism poster. The TTC also donated space in the subway station to exhibit our poster — symbolically, it was in the same place as the other poster had appeared. The new poster was also made possible by the donation of time by many members of our community. We estimate that the community donated the equivalent of $5000 in volunteer work to bring this incident to a satisfactory conclusion.
The Centre for Spanish-Speaking Peoples produced a submission on Bill C-31, An Act Respecting Immigration to Canada. We also created a Fact Sheet which discusses the bill and what it will mean for refugee claimants, refugee applications and appeals.