Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet is playing “dangerous games around intolerance and hate” following comments Blanchet made about the new transport minister.
The Bloc leader took aim at the new Transport Minister Omar Alghabra saying that “questions arise” from the minister’s former role as head of the Canadian Arab Federation, which he held until 2006.
“The Bloc leader refuses to accuse anyone, but questions are raised about the proximity of the new transport minister, Omar Alghabra, to the political Islamic movement that he was a leader of for many years,” a Wednesday press release from the Bloc Québécois said in French.
Trudeau fired back at Blanchet over the insinuations, implying that the leader is contributing to hateful rhetoric that can result in incidents like the riots seen in the U.S. Capitol last week.
“I was absolutely floored to see a federal party leader use insinuations and carefully coded questions, particularly this week when we just lived through last week, what happens when leaders don’t take care of the words they do and play these dangerous games around intolerance and hate,” Trudeau said.
He added that these individuals “of course stand there innocently and say, ‘Oh, I was just asking questions.’”
“That’s ridiculous. That kind of political pandering to the worst elements, and to fears and anxieties, has no place in Canada and all of us need to stand up strongly to push back against that anywhere it happens in this country,” Trudeau said.
In a Wednesday statement sent to The Canadian Press, a spokesperson for the Bloc Quebecois said the party is simply raising questions about the minister’s past.
“It’s really questions about his past and also the separation of church and state, which is a profound value for the Bloc,” said spokesman Julien Coulombe-Bonnafous.
“We don’t want to raise any accusations, because I don’t think there’s that much.”
The Bloc Quebcois told Global News on Friday that they had nothing to add to this statement, aside from to note that it is their job to ask questions – and that’s all they are doing in this instance, according to Coulombe-Bonnafous.
Alghabra, meanwhile, has pushed back on the insinuations.
Alghabra added that Blanchet made a “choice” to use “dangerous” rhetoric.
“I believe that Quebecers and all Canadians will make the appropriate judgment on his regrettable political choices,” Alghabra said.
“As for me, I have just begun an important mandate for all Canadians.”