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11th-hour motion says racism must be discussed at Andrew Loku inquest

On what’s expected to be the last day of testimony at the Andrew Loku coroner’s inquest, an 11th-hour application has been filed asking the coroner to allow the final witness to explicitly speak about racism.Since beginning earlier this month, the inquest into the Toronto police shooting death of the mentally ill Black man has explored issues of implicit bias. But the topic of racism is not within the inquest’s scope, as determined by overseeing coroner Dr. John Carlisle.Selwyn Pieters, the lawyer representing the Black Action Defence Committee, which has standing at the inquest, filed a last minute application overnight Tuesday asking for reconsideration.“It is a manifest error in the context of this case to speak of implicit bias and exclude racism,” Pieters writes in the motion.“Racism is the elephant in the room in this case,” he writes.Article Continued BelowThe move comes after a discussion late Monday, in the absence of the jury, about the upcoming testimony of Dr. Kwame McKenzie, a psychiatrist and the director of health equity at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.McKenzie was designated by overseeing coroner Dr. John Carlisle as an expert in various areas, including institutional cultural competencies and anti-Black racism, according to Howard Morton, the lawyer for mental health group Across Boundaries which has standing at the inquest, and which called McKenzie as a witness.The word racism appeared multiple times in the summary of the evidence expected to be given by McKenzie, prompting Monday’s late-in-the-day discussion parsing the difference between racism and implicit bias, leaving some lawyers confused as to whether they could even say the word.

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