Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has backed the politician who was kicked out of the country’s parliament on Wednesday for calling a member of another party racist.
Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP), had to leave the House of Commons after trying to pass a motion acknowledging the existence of systemic racism in Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
Mr Singh had called Alain Therrien, a member of the Bloc Québécois party, racist after he refused to support the motion, which also called for a review into the police’s use of force.
As his language constituted a breach of parliamentary protocol, the speaker ejected Mr Singh from parliament for the rest of the day.
The prime minister told reporters on Thursday: "It is important that we recognise when the only racialised leader in the House of Commons makes a statement like that, that it comes from a place that yes, will make people uncomfortable, but needs to be dealt with as we move forward as a country.”
Mr Singh, who became the first minority leader of a national political party in Canada, later posted a video on Twitter explaining his actions.
The NDP leader cited some examples of systemic racism in Canada in recent months, including the treatment of indigenous chief Allan Adam, who was beaten up by an RCMP officer in March over an expired license plate.
He accused the Canadian government of not confronting systemic racism and police violence, following the global protests that were sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.
Referring to Mr Therrien’s objection to his motion, he added: "I'll be honest, I got angry. But I'm 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?"
The Bloc Québécois party tweeted on Wednesday asking Mr Singh to apologise for his comments, which it said were damaging to Mr Therrien’s reputation.
It also said that racism was a major issue in Canada, before adding that it had objected to Mr Singh’s motion on the grounds that the House of Commons public safety committee was already looking into systemic racism in the police.
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