The education minister "unreservedly" apologizes.
This article contains content that may be upsetting to some of our readers.
Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce is apologizing for his participation in a reported "slave auction" fundraiser from when he was a university student.
On Tuesday, May 10, PressProgress reported that Lecce was part of a Sigma Chi "slave auction" charity fundraiser while he was a member of the frat's chapter at Western University.
The article shared screenshots of archived posts from the frat's website that suggest that this kind of event was held on a few occasions while Lecce was a member.
In a statement to Narcity, the education minister apologized for his actions from over 15 years ago.
"The event from 2006 was inappropriate and in no way reflects who I am as a person, which is why I unreservedly apologize," Lecce said.
"I will continue to passionately advance the interests of all Ontarians — irrespective of faith, heritage, orientation or race."
The Ontario NDP wants Lecce to take accountability for his participation in these events.
"The trans-Atlantic slave trade is one of the most horrific chapters of human history. Upwards of 12 million enslaved Africans were ripped from their homes and transported across the Atlantic to the Americas between the 16th and the 19th century," the joint statement from three Ontario NDP candidates Dr. Jill Andrew (Toronto—St.Paul's), Faisal Hassan (York South—Weston) and Dr. Laura Mae Lindo (Kitchener Centre) 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."
The opposition party called on Lecce, who is also the Progressive Conservative MPP for King—Vaughan, to withdraw his candidacy for the upcoming provincial election on June 2.