A Saskatchewan Party MLA is doubling down on a controversial comment he made inside the house on Friday.
Greg Brkich, who represents Arm River, stated that ‘all lives matter’ in his final appearance at the Saskatchewan legislature.
Brkich, who is not seeking re-election in 2020, used the term to conclude his farewell speech.
“My mother has taught me to respect and treat everybody with respect and dignity no matter who they are (regardless of) race, creed, religion, whatever,” Brkich said in a follow-up interview with Global News.
The five-term MLA says he did not think the statement was controversial in Saskatchewan.
“It might be in the (United) States,” Brkich said. “But if it is, it is, and if people are offended by that I’m sorry. But to me everybody matters. All lives matter.”
In the same speech given at the legislature Friday, Brkich said he addressed how he believes political correctness is creeping in and how “it makes it tougher for politicians.”
The MLA for Arm River stood by his remark saying “to me the statement stands.” Brkich has also posted ‘all lives matter’ on his political Facebook page.
Premier Scott Moe, who acknowledged there is systemic racism in Saskatchewan, denounced Brkich’s remark, saying it is not a viewpoint of his party.
House speaker Mark Docherty who is also a Saskatchewan Party MLA, previously led a Black Lives Matter chant in front of the Saskatchewan legislature during a recent rally.
“Those comments shouldn’t have been made in the house. It shouldn’t have been made by the individual due to the controversy of this conversation, and that’s just not helpful to where we are going as a society and the conversation we’re having as a society,” Moe said.
“All lives matter” began surfacing years ago as a hashtag response to the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States. Users of the counter-slogan argue that it isn’t just Black lives that matter — all human life must be protected.
But BLM activists have called the counter-slogan offensive as it silences Black voices.
“That response is meant to silence what we’re calling for, it’s meant to de-legitimize us. But if all lives truly mattered, then Black lives would matter, too,” said BLM Toronto co-founder Sandy Hudson in a previous interview with Global News.
“Of course ‘all lives matter’ is a principle that we should all espouse … but if we see that Black people are being killed with impunity by police then you know that in our society, Black lives don’t, in fact, matter.”