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NDP Leader Tom Mulcair holds a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Monday, Jan 18, 2016. He has denounced U.S. President Donald Trump as a “fascist,” and urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stand up to the American leader on his plan to exclude refugees and some immigrants from the United States.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has denounced U.S. President Donald Trump as a "fascist," and urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stand up to the American leader on his plan to exclude refugees and some immigrants from the United States.

During a press conference Thursday in Ottawa, Mr. Mulcair publicly repeated the term for a nationalistic and authoritarian government, which he first used to describe Mr. Trump in a March video with NDP supporters.

"I didn't wait for Mr. Trump to get elected to denounce him. I was very clear that his behaviour was the behaviour of a fascist," Mr. Mulcair said on Thursday.

"Going after people based on their religion is classic behaviour of a fascist. Ruling by decree instead of going to your elected officials is again a reflex of someone who doesn't respect the fundamental nature of a democratic society."

Mr. Mulcair said Mr. Trudeau should stand up to Mr. Trump on his proposal to bar most refugees from entering the United States, and suspending all visas from people in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen until the country can put in place tougher vetting for immigrants.

The move will be Mr. Trump's attempt to fulfill a campaign promise of a moratorium on Muslims entering the United States. The pledge was so controversial that even Republican supporters of his rivals for the party's nomination openly described him as a fascist at campaign rallies. In an interview with ABC News on Wednesday, Mr. Trump denied the move was a "Muslim ban" but rather, dealing with countries that have links to terrorism.

"I find it shameful that we're seeing that in this day and age," Mr. Mulcair said.

"I'm hoping that Canada's Prime Minister, who talks a good game when it comes to international human rights, will actually have the courage to stand up to Mr. Trump and denounce the fact that he is excluding people because of their religion, not because of anything they've done."

The Prime Minister's Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Mr. Trudeau was asked during a press conference in Winnipeg whether he is concerned with more refugees coming to Canada due to stricter border controls in the U.S.

Without directly addressing Mr. Trump's plan, Mr. Trudeau said that Canada's approach to refugees and immigration is "open, and yet rigorous," and that "security is always strongly addressed." He said there are close to 60 million refugees and displaced peoples around the world.

"Canada will continue to do its small part by welcoming in people, but there's a lot more that we need to continue to do in supporting countries that are significant [recipients] of refugees, whether it's Jordan, Lebanon or Turkey, and doing what we can to counter the strife and conflict that is giving rise to so many refugees," he said.

"Canada has a lot of things to do in the world and we're happy to be playing our part."

Conservative MP Tony Clement, the party's public safety critic, said Mr. Mulcair's comments show he is trying to regain lost ground from left-leaning voters.

"You light your hair on fire, I guess that's one way to attract attention," Mr. Clement said in an interview on Friday.

"As a matter of policy, I don't think calling an incoming president any sort of name is going to be good strategy."

When asked if Mr. Mulcair's comments could potentially damage Canada's relationship with the Trump administration, Mr. Clement said, "No, because Tom Mulcair really doesn't count."

"I don't think President Trump is going to care what the leader of a third party is going to say about Canada-U.S. relations," he said.

But Mr. Clement added that  Mr. Trudeau is facing a "conundrum" because he needs to engage with Mr. Trump even though a segment of his supporters want zero engagement with the new President.

Mr. Clement said that Canada should stick to its own issues. "If political leaders are called upon to comment every single time something happens in the United States, we won't have time to worry about what was happening in Canada."

Mr. Mulcair also said Mr. Trump's assertion that torture "works" causes him grave concern.

"This is the same Donald Trump who often calls other people barbaric for their behaviour, and I think that saying no to the torture of other human beings is a sign of a movement towards a more civilized world," Mr. Mulcair said.

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