Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet personally blamed NDP leader Jagmeet Singh for fostering a divide on the topic of racism between Quebec and the rest of the country on Thursday.
After meeting with Quebec Premier François Legault, Blanchet told reporters that Singh categorized Legault as a racist because Legault wouldn’t acknowledge that the province had a systemic issue, and that this created a divide around the discussions of racism between Quebec and Canada.
“He should look himself in the mirror and ask if he has created a serious social crisis and a serious divide,” Blanchet said in French.
Back in early June at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests happening worldwide, including Quebec, Legault condemned racism in the province but refused to acknowledge that Quebec has any kind of systemic issue.
The premier said he didn’t want to get drawn into a “war over the term ‘systemic,’” nor did he want it to turn into a trial of Quebecers — the vast majority of whom Legault said are not racist.
Alexandre Boulerice, MP and Deputy Leader of the NDP, told Global News on Friday he believes Blanchet made such remarks because he knows his party is in trouble and is looking to agitate the more xenophobic part of Quebec society.
“The Bloc plays into nationalism,” Boulerice said. “I think it’s Blanchet who should look himself in the mirror and ask if he is fighting racism, or does it depend on the day and who he is speaking to?”
Boulerice added that Singh has been adamant about fighting racism his whole life and career and he believes young voters will recognize that.
In mid-June, Singh was temporarily barred from the House of Commons after calling a Bloc Québécois MP racist when he blocked an NDP motion to recognize systemic racism within the RCMP.
The motion also called on the government to review the police force’s budget, ensure the Mounties are truly held accountable, examine the Mounties’ use of force, and boost non-police spending on mental health and addiction support.
–with files from The Canadian Press