Alain Therrien: Racist MP blocks anti-racist House of Commons motion against RCMP brutality
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh recently got tossed out of the House of Commons for calling out a racist MP who refused to support a motion to stop RCMP discrimination, says a report on City News.
Singh had called for an overhaul of the national police force and to make de-escalation tactics a priority for RCMP. He had been seeking unanimous consent for the motion, when Bloc Québécois Member of Parliament Alain Therrien, for reasons still unknown, refused to show support.
"I look back and I saw that MP not only say no but make eye contact with me and kind of brush his hand, dismiss it," Singh said to reporters after the incident. "And in that moment, I got angry. I’ll be honest, I got angry,” he said, visibly upset. “But I am 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?”
This incident had prompted Singh to call Therrien a racist, insisting that he believed so and refusing to apologize for it. This led to speaker Anthony Rota ordering Singh to leave the House for the rest of the day for breaching parliamentary rules.
After leaving the house, Singh told reporters that he had felt angry and dismissed by the MP’s behaviour.“In that gesture, I saw exactly what has happened for so long. People see racism as not a big deal, see systemic racism and the killing of Indigenous people as not a big deal, see Black people being the subject of violence and being killed as not a big deal, and in the moment I saw the face of racism. That’s what it looks like when someone dismisses the reality that people are going through.”
“We are in a moment right now, people taking to the streets demanding action on systemic racism. Thousands of people across the world are saying we need to do something about it. Some people thought this wasn’t a Canadian issue. But for a lot of racialized people, for a lot of Black, Indigenous and people of colour, this has been a problem in Canada as well,” he said.
Singh insists that there has never been a better time to tackle systemic racism in Canada.
“In this moment, where Indigenous people are being killed and brutalized, Black people are being killed and brutalized, in Canada, we’ve not seen any action,” he said. “The prime minister took a knee, but he didn’t bring forward any policy changes. In the States, they moved quicker on some policy changes than even Canada. Canada did not bring forward any changes to the federal policing. So people are angry, they’re frustrated.”
What’s even more disturbing is the fact that rather than pay attention to the thousands of indigenous people and black people of Canada who are brutalized, killed or who face some sort of racial discrimination daily, the House seemed to pay more attention to the party leader’s exchange with MP Terrien.
The party whip member for the Bloc Québécois Claude DeBellefeuille, quoted on Flare, appeared to be more bothered by Singh’s comments than by anything else, stating: “I do not believe that a leader of a party can, here, treat another member of this House, call them racist because we don’t approve the motion that was just moved. The NDP unabashedly is treating the member of La Prairie as a racist person and this is unacceptable in this House.”
In Canada, police discrimination against minority communities is a real issue—and one that is often ignored by leaders. Even though Singh may not have gotten all the support he needed from the House, many social media users supported his stance.
“The way that Jagmeet Singh is demonized and dunked on by Canadians is a reflection of the white supremacy that runs rampant in this nation. Only in a racist country does a brown man get ejected from parliament for insisting that the denial of systemic racism is racist” a twitter user commented.