'I can’t say that I was shocked': NDP MP Matthew Green supports Singh's use of 'racist' against Bloc Québécois
On Wednesday, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh attempted to propose an application to: combat systemic racism within the RCMP, review the use of official violence, review the RCMP budget, and increase funding for healthcare workers to de-escalate situations. The request, which seemed to have the support of the house, until there was a weak objection from the Québécois block manager, Alain Therrien.
The following happened outside the camera, but Singh insists that Therrien made eye contact with him to distract him, and he retaliated by calling La Prairie MP racist.
"It is true, I called him a racist," said Singh, speaking to the spokesman for the house.
Singh was immediately removed from the house, but left on his own. He spoke to the media in a press conference that took place shortly after leaving the floor.
"I was angry at the moment and I stand by it. At that moment I saw the face of racism," he said.
Matthew Green is a NDP member of the Hamilton Center.
After seeing how the events unfolded, Matthew Green, Hamilton Center MP and member of the NDP Caucus, agreed to the chairman of his party.
“If you support or hold back progress against anti-racism, it is inherently inaction and part of systemic racism. And it's racist, ”said Green.
Green describes the background to what happened before the application was denied and Singh's response. It is often common for a party to notify in advance if it supports or intends to block an application, but Green says the BQ does not. He had previously tried to file an application to ban hate groups from using public space, but the BQ blocked it.
"I can't say I was shocked because it was the second time they did and it's part of a pattern," he said.
In addition, the rhetoric of not calling out racism and instead trying to create a race-ethnicity gap seems to be the nature of Quebec politics today.
"It is in line with many of the rhetoric and leadership qualities that we see in Quebec right now," he said.
Green not only agrees with Singh's way of declaring racism in a blunt and necessary manner, he also believes that the BQ has consistently pushed the concept of an ethnostat by not focusing on the problems of the colored in Quebec.
"I think he has been honest in what he said, and it is in that honesty that the Bloc Quebecois fight. They were confident that colored people would be silenced in their province, ”he said.
The leader of the Québécois bloc hopes that Singh will "sincerely" apologize for the racism allegations against a member of the bloc
The Québécois bloc chair, Yves-François Blanchet, said on Thursday that he hoped the NDP chairman, Jagmeet Singh, would "sincerely apologize" for calling a bloc member in the lower house "racist" on Wednesday, and if not, he hopes that the House spokesperson will do so Take stronger measures so that people do not feel they can offend and accuse others without punishment. He also urged the media to "explain to Canadians that block members are anything but racists".
Systemic racism in parliament
When the Parliament was founded in 1867, it was then invented and designed for white men, who at that time represented a very white Canada. Over 150 years later, even though there is more diversity in the house nowadays, this does not change the history or the current structure, says Erin Tolley, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto.
"To admit that systemic racism exists means that people who have benefited from these institutions have achieved what they have not achieved because of their merit or size, but because these systems have been created to make them successful" , she said.
Can we take a minute to see how little coverage there is of the fact that the MP has literally made eye contact with Jagmeet and brushed his hand after voting against his anti-racism movement?
Shouldn't that be in every heading? #cdnmedia
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When Tolley assessed the evolving situation, she noticed that there was more focus on what Singh was doing, but few comments on Therriens' behavior.
"The tension immediately shifts to the hurt feelings of the white person who received the comment," she said.
"We are focusing on calling a racist as a distraction from doing something about the basic problem," she said.
Chrystia Freeland calls Jagmeet Singh "a really important voice" on racism in Canada
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland on Thursday described NDP leader Jagmeet Singh as the only racially motivated leader of a political party as "a really important voice" on systemic racism in Canada. Freeland was also asked about the allegations that block member Alain Therrien made a “hand gesture” and said she hadn't seen anything.
In her eyes, Tolley believes there are two ways to declare racism: the first outright and the other way around the problem so as not to hurt a white person's feelings. She believes that Singh has taken the right measures to highlight Therren's lack of support.
"It is important to name racism, call it out and say it is racist, and not protect white fragility and work around the problem by not calling it what it is," said Tolley.
When asked why Therrien would push back a subject of this kind, Tolley was not sure since the MP did not answer any media inquiries to speak. Tolley believes that anyone who does not understand the RCMP's clear systemic racism, which both the Prime Minister and RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki have admitted, does not currently pass the BIPOC.
"If you can't realize the ethos, processes, procedures, and structures based on the RCMP from its race hierarchy, you just don't understand how institutions work," said Tolley.
Erin Tolley, associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto.
Regarding the exclusion of other BIPOC people, Tolley highlights the challenges that two liberal MPs, Celina Caesar-Chavannes and Iqra Khalid, faced between 2015 and 2019. Caesar-Chavannes eventually quit the liberal caucus and caused many problems within the government's structures to operate on its way out. She often said that she was asked for her ID, that she was mistaken for another liberal MP, or that she was not considered a MP.
Khalid on the other end faced a number of setbacks when he tried to introduce a bill to condemn Islamophobia in Canada. Every single Conservative MP except Michael Chong and Bruce Stanton was against the law, but it was still passed.
"Just looking at the numbers doesn't address the institutional structure or the experiences these people have had in the institution, which can be an inhospitable place for many," said Tolley.
White MP calls another MP racist. December 9, 1974. No expulsion.
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The writer Robert Jago has highlighted at least seven incidents in the lower house in which white parliamentarians previously described themselves as racists. No one has ever been excluded from parliament. Green added that the house is not the place of politeness described and the BQ's claim that Singh's actions were unsuccessful.
"Anyone who has ever attended Question Time personally knows that there is no decency, insults fly around all the time, there are interjections," he said.
What Singh wanted to achieve
In an interview on CTV Power Play on Thursday, Singh repeated his stance on Therrien. In the same interview, Singh said his intention with the request was to hold the conservatives and the now ruling liberals accountable for the creation of these structures to preserve systemic racism.
"The whole goal was really to push the prime minister of this country, Prime Minister Trudeau, and to push the government to actually do something. It is not an opposition party," he said.
Reporters asked the prime minister similar questions about Singh's actions in the house, but he didn't take the bait.
"In relation to what Mr. Singh said, it is not my job to criticize a Canadian, especially not the only racial leader in the House of Commons, for making people uncomfortable by asking them not to recognize systemic discrimination ", he said.
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Not only did Trudeau not criticize Singh in any way, he also said that it was part of the tough talks that the country must have to bring about real change.
"I think we need to recognize that these conversations will make people uncomfortable. But it has been the lived reality of racialized and indigenous Canadians for far too long, and we must continue to move forward in a way that tries to bring people together," said he.
Trudeau says his "disappointing" block Québécois will not recognize systemic racism in Canada
When asked about comments by NDP leader Jagmeet Singh in the House of Commons on Wednesday after Singh was kicked out of the house for calling block delegate Alain Therrien racist, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that it was "disappointing." "that the Québécois bloc" continues to "refuse to accept" that systemic racism exists in Canadian institutions.
As Tolley sees, there are cases of racism that keep going viral on social media, and this was a moment when the BQ was on the right side of the story, but the narrative has shifted.
"We have seen how people behave racially, but the much more insidious way racism affects them is in these institutional systems. This whole discussion has prevented all of this. It is all about the individual interaction between two MPs," said Tolley.
Focus shifts away from Therrien
When Tolley listened to Singh's media availability after being deported, he was asked at least three times whether he called Therrien a racist. Even in his interview with CTV Power Play, the moderator, Evan Solomon talks about the bigger problem, but continues to focus solely on Singh's use of the word.
"Rather than formulating the story about Jagmeet Singh as the first leader of color to stand up and focus on these issues of systemic racism, she is referred to as a white MP who is referred to as a racist," she said.
The problems in the media are too familiar to Green, who, as a black MP, has been called numerous times to disappoint the police and talk about racism in Canada.
"I've probably had 40 or 50 interviews in the past two weeks, and some of those interviews still ask me if there is racism in Canada," said Green.
Green believed that the media played a role in maintaining current power structures because they were mostly white, arguing that Therrien avoided speaking to the media while Singh was brought to justice.
"The mainstream media has been involved in maintaining the status quo of power structures in this country, it has always been so," he said.
While his MP and party did not support Singh's request, BQ chairman Yves-François Blanchet admitted on Thursday that some Canadian institutions are characterized by systemic racism.
"It needs to be found and removed from our rules, institutions and behaviors. I believe that exists," he said.
The BQ leader says he thinks Singh's suspension should be extended and his punishment should be commensurate with his actions.
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