NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has refused to apologize after calling the Bloc House Leader, Alain Therrien, a racist for blocking a NDP motion calling for action on systemic discrimination in Canada and then twice giving a dismissive hand wave to Singh and the motion. Singh said he brought forward the motion after PM Trudeau failed to take any action beyond words and kneeling in dealing with the murder of indigenous and black people that have led to widespread protests in Canada over police brutality in dealing with racialized communities. Singh's motion called on MPs "to recognize there is systemic racism within the RCMP and call on the government to review the RCMP budget as well as the federal law that governs the police force. His motion also called for other accountability measures related to the RCMP, including a full review of the use of force by members and the training officers get."
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he stands by his actions and words in the House of Commons after he was kicked out on Wednesday for calling a Bloc Quebecois MP a racist.
Singh was removed after refusing to apologize to Bloc Quebecois House Leader Alain Therrien. Singh called Therrien a racist for denying the approval needed for a motion calling out systemic racism in the RCMP. “I don't back down from standing up to racism… I don't think it benefits for me to call people names, I was angry at the moment and I stand by it,” Singh said in a press conference a few hours after the very tense moment during the special sitting to study the latest round of federal spending measures. In that moment I got angry, but I am sad now, because why can’t we act? Why can’t we do something to save peoples’ lives? We can do something, and why would someone say no to that?” Singh said, visibly emotional.
Singh was seeking the unanimous consent of the House of Commons to pass a motion calling on the House to recognize there is systemic racism within the RCMP and call on the government to review the RCMP budget as well as the federal law that governs the police force. His motion also called for other accountability measures related to the RCMP, including a full review of the use of force by members and the training officers get. It appeared that all other parties were on side with the motion but an audible “no” came from the area in the House of Commons where the Bloc Quebecois caucus sits.
To reporters in the viewing gallery above the House of Commons, Singh and Therrien could then be seen exchanging heated words a few rows away from each other and out of the view of the Commons cameras, before Bloc Quebecois MP and party whip Claude DeBellefeuille called on the House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota to call for order, saying in French that the NDP leader had insulted her colleague and was using unparliamentarily language. Singh then rose, and said in French: “It’s true, I called him a racist.”
He was asked to apologize and he refused. After a few minutes of deliberation, Rota rose and ruled that for his comments and refusal to apologize when asked, Singh was not able to participate in the remainder of the day’s sitting.
“In this moment where Indigenous people are being killed and being brutalized, Black people are being killed and brutalized in Canada. We've not seen any action,” Singh told reporters. “And in that moment, we put forward this motion, but I thought given where we are, given what's going on, given the lack of action, here is something we can do concretely to actually make a difference… Kind of shocked that anyone would say no to this motion.”