May 07, 2021
Affidavit was filed in connection with defamation suit against political strategist Warren Kinsella
WARNING: This story includes offensive language.
People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier once discounted NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh's chances of winning a seat in the House of Commons by saying he'd "never get elected with that rag on his head," according to an affidavit filed recently in an Ottawa court case.
In a separate affidavit, however, Bernier says that he's not a racist and that the affidavit is the only eyewitness account of him "supposedly saying something racist" filed by the lawyer for political strategist Warren Kinsella.
Bernier said Kinsella was hired to paint him and the People's Party of Canada as racist to draw support away from his fledgling party during the last election.
The allegations and counter-allegations are part of hundreds of pages of affidavits and exhibits filed recently in Ontario Superior Court in an acrimonious defamation suit that pits Bernier against Kinsella.
. . .
In an affidavit filed by Kinsella's lawyer dated April 15, former Conservative communications adviser Matthew Conway describes what he said was an incident involving Bernier in February 2018, when Bernier was still a Conservative Party critic.
Conway said he was standing with Bernier in the House of Commons' foyer, waiting for him to go on television to comment on the budget, when Singh walked by.
"When Mr. Singh entered the foyer, Mr. Bernier said, referring to Mr. Singh, 'Il ne se fera jamais élire avec ce torchon sur sa tête,'" wrote Conway. He translated the phrase into English as, "He'll never get elected with that rag on his head."
The affidavit claims that, a few minutes later, Bernier asked what Singh was "doing with that knife," referring to Singh's kirpan — the sacred ceremonial dagger that observant Sikhs are supposed to wear at all times.
"Both of these comments made me nervous," Conway wrote in his affidavit. "Not only did I consider them to be offensive and racist, but I was concerned, in my role as a communications adviser, that members of the press who were nearby may have overheard the comments."
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