NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said violent messages and death threats that target members of Parliament are not helpful tactics in the battle against systemic racism in Canada.
Singh made the remarks after Bloc Québécois MP Alain Therrien told a parliamentary committee Tuesday that he has been the target of tens of thousands of hateful emails, social media posts and death threats since Singh called him racist in the House of Commons. Therrien said he also has had to seek police protection.
“This is not about a personal matter about a single MP and there is … no benefit to getting the change we want by attacking a single individual MP that is not even in government,” Singh said today.
“I don’t want anyone to issue … death threats, violent messages. That’s not helpful. We need to focus pressure to get this work done.”
Back in June, Singh was told to leave the House of Commons chamber for the rest of the day after calling Therrien a racist for refusing to vote for an NDP motion recognizing the existence of systemic racism in the RCMP.
The motion also asked MPs to support a review of the RCMP’s budget, to demand that the RCMP release all of its use-of-force reports and to call for a review of the RCMP’s tactics for dealing with the public.
Therrien was the only MP in the House who refused to support the motion — prompting Singh to call the Bloc MP a racist.
At a press conference later that day, Singh was asked if he would repeat his allegation against Therrien outside the House of Commons, where he is not protected by parliamentary privilege.
“Yes. I’ve said it really clearly. I repeat it really clearly,” Singh said. “Anyone who votes against a motion that recognizes the systemic racism in the RCMP and that calls for basic fixes for the problem … is a racist, yes.”
Put pressure on PM, not Bloc: Singh
The Bloc Québécois issued a statement on Therrien’s vote shortly after the incident. The statement said that while “discrimination against Indigenous communities and cultural minorities is a major issue,” the public safety committee is studying systemic racism in the RCMP and should be allowed to do its work.
“We consider it inappropriate to impose findings to a committee before it has conducted its study. We respect the parliamentary process,” Bloc Whip Claude DeBellefeuille said in French at the time.
Today, Singh said that the only way to eliminate systemic racism from the RCMP is to put pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government.
“That is where the effort should be put, in getting the Liberal government that’s in power now, and … Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to do something to tackle the systemic racism that’s happening in policing, particularly at the federal level where we have full jurisdiction,” he said.
“We’re there willing to bring in place any legislation that needs to happen, and vote on it. That’s where our efforts should be.”