As protests sparked by the death of George Floyd who was involved in police in Minneapolis continued throughout the United States, Canadian federal politicians delivered a special speech at the House of Commons on Tuesday, calling for ongoing inequality in the country and pleading Prime Minister Justin Trudeau beyond “sweet words.”
Trudeau led a series of speeches with the recognition of anti-black racism in Canada and lack of his own past, including wearing a black face on more occasions than he can say concretely.
“When I became an ally, I have made serious mistakes in the past, mistakes that I deeply regret and continue to learn from … I am not perfect, but imperfect is not a free way to not do the right thing,” Trudeau said.
“I know that for so many people listening now, the last thing you want to hear is another speech about racism from white politicians,” the prime minister said, adding that the reason he delivered his speech was to make it clear that the government was listening.
Trudeau said that Canadians who stand at this time and all those who “feel the burden of oppression” deserve better, committed to working with opposition parties in combating racism in Canada.
However, Trudeau faced questions all day about existing government policies and whether he was ready to go further than his previous commitments when talking about inequalities that existed in Canadian society.
Shortly after take a long pause In response to questions about US President Donald Trump’s call for military action against protesters, Trudeau was asked what his government wanted to do to improve the situation in Canada.
Specifically, he was asked about a Report of the 2017 UN Human Rights Council about the experience of Canadians in Africa.
The report recommended that the federal government issue an apology and consider reparations for slavery and other historical injustices. Asked if his government intended to do both, the prime minister could not say.
His response to the work that has been done and continues to be carried out by his government with the black community and funding provided to fight racism and systemic and institutional discrimination, but he is not committed to apologizing nationally, something he has done several times his tenure as prime minister for other injustices faced by Canadians.
“We will work with black communities throughout the country because we must respond to their priorities. There is a lot to do in Canada and we will do it in partnership with them, “he said.
At the House of Commons, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh challenged Trudeau to use his position of power to “go beyond beautiful words, and beautiful speeches, and do something.”
Singh, who was the first colored person to lead a major federal political party in Canada, said that if Trudeau believed that black life was important, he must commit to ending racial profiling, and the excessive detention of black people in Canada.
He also noted the ongoing racial inequalities faced by indigenous peoples in Canada and called on Trudeau to stop the litigation that challenged the federal government’s need to provide compensation to First Nations children affected by the discriminatory child welfare system; and to ensure access to clean water, housing and education.
“Why black people, why do Natives need to keep asking to be treated like humans? Why? You know, people finish with pretty speeches, especially pretty speeches from powerful people who can do something about it now if they want to, “he said.
‘OUR OWN SET HOME AT ORDER’
Demonstrations have taken place in Canadian cities including Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal, in solidarity with those who condemn anti-black racism in the United States.
Asked why he or Trudeau did not mention Trump’s name or respond to his leadership decision during their comments on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the focus was on dealing with “Canadian complacency.”
“I think it’s very, very important for us to organize our own homes and for us to really realize the pain caused by black racism here in our own country, from the fact that we have systemic discrimination here in Canada, “Freeland said.” I think we as Canadians, all of us, need to take this very traumatic moment for many people in the world as an opportunity to see what we are doing in Canada and work hard to do better. “
‘WE HAVE TO TALK’
In his speech, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said that Canada “was a beacon for many who escaped slavery,” and as a result, the country benefited, by offering examples of Canadians who “overcame” and then served their communities. These included Lincoln Alexander, who was elected in 1968 and was the first black MP to become the first black cabinet minister; and Viola Desmond who challenged separation and now depicted on Canadian $ 10 banknotes.
“Although there are many things that we can show in our history with pride, it does not mean we have a perfect record, nor is it immune to the threat of racism or that anti-black racism is only an American problem. Canada has a dark episode of racism that cannot be ignored, and unfortunately not only in our past, “Scheer said.
“No one must be attacked in their community or be targeted by a bus because of the color of their skin,” he said, adding that the struggle against all attempts to violate freedom need to be continued.
Quebecois Bloc leader Yves-Francois Blanchet echoed Singh’s call for political leadership to go beyond words, and suggested the first concrete step the federal government could take was to speed up the processing of asylum claims.
Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May concluded a series of special speeches with emotional requests to her MP colleagues: up. We have to talk, “he said.
“Black is important. I don’t want to do anything but say it here until we stand together and say black life is important,” May said.
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