Justin Trudeau draws parallels between Blanchet and Trump

The Bloc Québécois leader questioned the promotion of the new transport minister this week with racist innuendo.

In a departure from his usual genial and even-keeled tone during press conferences, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was visibly angry when responding to a question about Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet’s statements this week about Canada’s new Transport Minister Omar Alghabra. Trudeau went as far as to invoke the incitement of terrorists by Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol last week in his statement about Blanchet’s underhanded racist remarks.

In a Bloc press release following the cabinet shuffle on Tuesday, it was alleged that Alghabra might have ties to “the political Islamic movement” via his role as head of the Canadian Arab Federation in the early 2000s. The CAF had its funding cut by the Conservative government in 2009 after its then-leader (not Alghabra) made statements that were considered anti-Semitic. Blanchet has subsequently refused to accuse Alghabra of anything specific, saying merely that “questions arise,” citing an article by a right-wing Quebec newspaper columnist.

“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 use and play these dangerous games around intolerance and hate, and 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 it anywhere it happens in this country.”

Justin Trudeau’s statement about Blanchet
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino among federal government colleagues demanding an apology to Omar Alghabra from Yves-François Blanchet

In a statement released on Wednesday, Alghabra said, “Unfortunately, I have also become familiar with facing suspicion and baseless attacks. It is not uncommon for many Canadians to experience such suspicion because of their background and who they are.”

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