The embers of Bloc MP Alain Therrien rejecting an anti-racism motion in June 2020 was lit again following another heated exchange on the matter. This time between Green leader Annamie Paul and Bloc leader Yves-Francois Blanchet.
"First, never underestimate the weight, the sadness of those traumas," said Blanchet about the wrongdoings committed by Canada’s Residential School System.
"I acknowledged the existence of systemic racism in June 2020," he said, referencing an NDP anti-racism motion on the RCMP that was debated then at Parliament.
The motion asked MPs to support a review of the RCMP's budget, to demand that the RCMP release all of its use-of-force reports and to call for a review of the RCMP's tactics for dealing with the public, according to CBC.
"And then what happened? It became a tool to say Quebec is this and that, and racist and xenophobic, and all of that," said Blanchet.
Therrien was the only MP in the House who refused to support the motion — prompting NDP leader Jagmeet Singh to call the Bloc MP a racist.
Singh was expelled from the House in June 2020 for his comments and refusing to apologize and withdraw his remarks.
"Instead of opening a discussion, trying to find a solution, consulting experts, discussing with the First Nations themselves, it became about "this white society against another white society,"" said Blanchet.
Paul added: "We mentioned that — not that long ago — in one of our statements that children in care had replaced the residential school system and that this was perpetuating the legacy of trauma. It comes back to what I said before, which is that the Indigenous leadership is there."
"I support the idea of discussing all of that on a quiet stage without this aggressive debate," replied Blanchet.
Paul said politicians are "missing the political will" to enact change and commented on the need to "[make] space for new and diverse voices."
Blanchet added: "First Nations and Quebec have something in common: they are bound by a document they never signed."
"Any relationship between nations should be dealt with freely signed treaties or agreements," citing the Indian Act needs to be replaced "one nation at a time if need be," he said.
The exchange between both leaders intensified when Paul said her "jaw dropped" upon hearing Blanchet speak.
"I invited Mr. Blanchet to get educated about systemic discrimination [in June 2020]," she said. "I extend that invitation again. I would be happy to educate them."
Blanchet interrupted Paul: "It's nice to want to educate."
"It's my time, sir," she retorted.
"Nice time to insult people," responded Blanchet.
"That was not an insult," clarified Paul. "It was an invitation to educate yourself."
Singh tried to get unanimous support in June 2020 to recognize systemic racism in the RCMP. The motion acknowledged "several Indigenous people have died at the hands of the RCMP in recent months."
"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 at the moment I saw the face of racism," said Singh in June 2020.
"That's what it looks like when someone dismisses the reality that people are going through. And so I had a moment of anger when I saw that."
"Anyone who votes against a motion that recognizes the systemic racism in the RCMP and that calls for basic fixes for the problem … is a racist, yes."
Singh did not comment on the matter during the heated exchange between Paul and Blanchet during the leader's debate.