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'Why can't we do something to save people's lives?': NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh firm on accusations of racism

Last Updated Jun 17, 2020 at 9:28 pm PDT


Jagmeet Singh was looking for unanimous consent regarding a motion on RCMP discrimination

One MP refused to support the motion, though it was unclear who said no

NDP leader acknowledges he called Bloc MP Alain Therrien a racist

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has no regrets after he called a Bloc Quebecois MP “racist”, and got tossed out of the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Singh was kicked out after he refused to apologize for the words directed at MP Alain Therrien.

Singh was looking for unanimous consent regarding a motion on RCMP discrimination. However, one MP refused to support it, though it was unclear who said no.

Amid finger-pointing, Singh acknowledged he called Therrien racist, adding “I believe that’s so.”

When Singh refused to apologize, Speaker Anthony Rota ordered him to leave the House for the rest of the day for breaching parliamentary rules.

Speaking to reporters following the exchange, Singh says he felt angry after Therrien seemed to brush off his comments while asking the House to recognize there is systemic racism in the RCMP and to call on the government to review the force’s budget, ensure the Mounties are truly accountable, and do a full review of the RCMP’s use of force.

“I look back and I saw that MP not only say no but make eye contact with me and kind of brush his hand, dismiss it. And in that moment, I got angry. I’ll be honest, I got angry,” says a visibly emotional Singh. “But I am sad now. Because why can’t we act? Why can’t we do something to save people’s lives? We can do something. And why would someone say no to that?”

Earlier in the day, Singh called for an overhaul of the national police force and to make de-escalation tactics a priority for RCMP.

After leaving the House, Singh said he was sad and that he had gotten angry, feeling dismissed adding it only amplifies calls for action and to fully recognize the violence and suffering experienced by Black, Indigenous and people of colour across Canada.

“We are in a moment right now, people taking to the streets demanding action on systemic racism. Thousands of people across the world are saying we need to do something about it. Some people thought this wasn’t a Canadian issue. But for a lot of racialized people, for a lot of Black, Indigenous and people of colour, this has been a problem in Canada as well,” he said.

He added systemic racism is a problem in Canada and cited the recent killings of two Indigenous people — Chantel Moore and Rodney Levi — by police and RCMP, and other instances involving use of force.

“In this moment, where Indigenous people are being killed and brutalized, Black people are being killed and brutalized, in Canada, we’ve not seen any action,” Singh said. “The prime minister took a knee, but he didn’t bring forward any policy changes. In the States, they moved quicker on some policy changes than even Canada. Canada did not bring forward any changes to the federal policing. So people are angry, they’re frustrated.”

Singh said his motion put forward some clear steps to tackle systemic racism.

One is to acknowledge in the House of Commons, he added, that there is systemic racism in the RCMP.

“Let’s name that and make it clear.”

Trudeau has acknowledged systemic racism exists within the RCMP.