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Stephen Lecce apologizes for participating in fraternity ‘slave auction’

Stephen Lecce, one of Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford’s highest profile candidates, is apologizing after a report emerged about him participating in a fraternity house “slave auction” when he was in university.

Lecce, who served as education minister in the most recent provincial parliament, issued a two-line apology Tuesday night after a report about a 2006 Sigma Chi event at Western University, which was called a “slave auction,” was published by Press Progress, a news website founded by the left-leaning Broadbent Institute.

In his apology, Lecce, who was a member of the fraternity’s chapter at the time, did not deny his involvement in the event.

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“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.”

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In a web archived version of what appeared on Sigma Chi’s website at the time, obtained by CTV News Toronto, Lecce penned a statement congratulating incoming members.

“Our alumni brothers who range from academic scholars, corporate executives, philanthropists, politicians and community leaders continue to live the values they have learned through Sigma Chi many years ago,” Lecce wrote.

To the right of his message appeared the fraternity’s “Chapter News,” which listed events including the 2006 “slave auction.” Lecce’s name was also listed as a “slave” at the charity event.

Lecce 1 5898042 1652282385959 nationalA statement penned by Stephen Lecce, which appeared on Sigma Chi’s website, is captured from a web archived version obtained by CTV News Toronto. His apology comes as he seeks re-election in King-Vaughan in Ontario’s provincial election.

When Ontario Liberal Leader Stephen Del Duca was asked about Lecce’s apology on the campaign trail on Wednesday, he said he could not comment given his position of privilege.

“I understand he’s apologized, but I think it is best left to racialized Ontarians, vulnerable Ontarians, who are in a position of having to deal with this kind of behavior far too often, for them to be in a position to respond to whether or not his apology is good enough,” Del Duca said.

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called Lecce’s involvement in the auction “very painful” and “hurtful” for members of the Black community.

“I have to say that our former Black caucus members, the founders of our Black caucus, put out a statement last night and I stand by that statement 100 per cent,” Horwath said on Wednesday.

In the joint statement, several Ontario NDP candidates in Toronto called on Lecce to withdraw from running for office, calling his actions “repulsive” and “clear anti-Black racism.”

“Under no circumstances should the people of this province, or even more alarmingly our children, be represented by him at this time,” Toronto-St. Paul’s candidate Dr. Jill Andrew said in the statement with NDP candidates Faisal Hassan and Dr. Laura Mae Lindo.

“Doug Ford and the PC party must remove him. We are also calling on Doug Ford, as the Leader of the PC party, to clearly and unequivocally condemn Mr. Lecce’s actions.” 

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