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'Slavery is not a joke': NDP calls for Stephen Lecce to withdraw from Ontario election after reports of fraternity 'slave auction' event

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Ontario NDP candidates in Toronto are calling on Doug Ford's cabinet minister, Stephen Lecce, to withdraw from the election following reports of him participating in a "slave auction" when he was a student at Western University.

"The legacy of slavery, colonialism and white supremacy still lives on in our institutions and in the generational trauma people of African-descent continue to face every day," a joint statement from NDP candidate for Toronto—St. Paul’s, Dr. Jill Andrew, NDP candidate for York South—Weston Faisal Hassan, and NDP candidate for Kitchener Centre Dr. Laura Mae Lindo, reads.

"Mr. Lecce chose to lead and participate in events that mocked and trivialized this painful history. He also chose to conceal them for years as a public official, as a Minister charged with the education, opportunity and wellbeing of Black students and as the person tasked with overseeing the province’s investigations into anti-Black racism in schools. All of these actions are repulsive and constitute clear anti-Black racism."Joint statement from NDP candidates

The statement goes on to call for Lecce to withdraw as a candidate for his office, or be removed by Ford.

"Under no circumstances should the people of this province, or even more alarmingly our children, be represented by him at this time," the statement reads.

"Slavery is not a joke. Engaging in racist, dehumanizing actions cannot be allowed to be another case of 'boys will be boys.' Black Ontarians deserve so much better from their elected officials and their governments."

Lecce issued a statement apologizing for his involvement in the "slave auction" event when he was a university student, initially reported on the PressProgress website.

"The event from 2006 was inappropriate and in no way reflects who I am as a person, which is why I unreservedly apologize," he said in the statement.

"I will continue to passionately advance the interests of all Ontarians — irrespective of faith, heritage, orientation or race."

Several Ontarians have also taken to social media to respond