NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called a Bloc Québécois MP racist, after the party declined to support a motion that recognized systemic racism in the RCMP and would have subjected the force to more scrutiny.
The Speaker of the House of Commons kicked Mr. Singh out of the chamber Wednesday afternoon after he refused to apologize to Bloc MP Alain Therrien for the comments.
“We had a motion to call out the systemic racism in the RCMP and provide some really clear steps to stop it in the future,” Mr. Singh said at a news conference late Wednesday.
“Anyone who wants to vote against that is a racist.”
The Bloc defended Mr. Therrien and accused Mr. Singh of “an unjustified insult that tarnished his reputation.”
The party had already supported a study on systemic racism in the RCMP, party whip Claude DeBellefeuille said, calling it “inappropriate to impose conclusions on a committee before” the issue was studied.
Mr. Singh questioned why he was booted from the House for calling out racism while, he said, the person who did something racist faced no consequences. “You figure that out.”
The motion, that the Bloc thwarted Wednesday, would have forced the Mounties to release all information around police use-of-force incidents and any related financial settlements, undergo a budget review, and be subject to a study of its use-of-force policies.
It was prompted by a string of violent police incidents against Indigenous people. Over the past two months, RCMP in New Brunswick and Nunavut have shot and killed two Indigenous people and, in another case in the territory, a Mountie drove a police vehicle into an Inuk man.
Mr. Singh said he proposed the policy changes because of the government’s failure to move ahead on meaningful changes since the issue of police brutality was propelled into the spotlight more than three weeks ago.
“There’s been no action, the Prime Minister took a knee, but then didn’t bring any policy changes. In the States, they’ve moved quicker,” Mr. Singh said.
The Liberals said they supported the NDP motion, the Conservatives did not reply to The Globe and Mail’s request for their position on it. For the motion to pass, it needed unanimous consent from all political parties.
The NDP Leader added that the Bloc also voted against another NDP motion, which would have seen a push to combat and track a rise in hate crimes.
In the Senate, efforts to immediately hold the government to account for its work to combat racism were delayed by the Conservatives.
Senator Marie-Françoise Mégie put forward a motion for senators to question government ministers about their role in addressing racism and to press for action.
During a debate on the motion, Conservative Senator and Opposition Leader Don Plett said the hearing should take place in the fall when more senators can attend. In response, Ms. Mégie said pushing the emergency discussion beyond next week was not acceptable.
The Conservatives also rejected her bid to table a statement from the parliamentary Black caucus, which detailed more than 40 recommendations to address systemic racism in Canada. In a statement, Mr. Plett’s spokesperson said the request to table the document was denied because it is “extraordinary that an extra-parliamentary document be tabled.”
Ms. Mégie’s office noted that last year then-Conservative senator Nicole Eaton tabled a speech in the Senate.
Mr. Plett has proposed a separate study of racism in Canada.
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