Racial considerations continue to divide Parliament in Ottawa. This time, the desire of the Liberals, the NDP and the Greens to insert the notion of “systemic discrimination” in a bill aimed at making the judiciary aware of the issues of sexual assault made the Bloc Québécois jump up and left the Conservatives dubious.
Bill C-3 (Bill C-3) seeks to require new judges appointed by Ottawa to take specific training in sexual assault law. The training would be developed after consultation with people who have been assaulted and with organizations supporting them. But during the in-depth study of the C-3, the Liberals added that training must take into account “racism and systemic discrimination”. The Green Party for its part added that “Aboriginal leaders and representatives of Aboriginal communities” must contribute to the development of the training.
The Bloc Québécois thinks we are drowning the fish. “This bill should now take into account colonialism, ableism, classism and this new notion of systemic oppression, in addition, of course, to systemic racism,” lamented the leader Yves-François Blanchet. He alludes to the fact that the Green Party also wanted to include gender identity in the bill, and the NDP, homophobia, transphobia, class struggle, disabilities and colonialism. However, these attempts failed.
According to the Bloc leader, these issues may be valid, but have no place in the C-3. “There is an effect, if not a will, to dilute the impact, scope and ease of implementation of a law, which does not serve the public interest. “Mr. Blanchet believes that the legislator must make” specific interventions on specific subjects. He gave the example of balanced budgets and energy transition which, although of interest, do not deserve a mention in all bills.
The Conservatives were also worried about adding the notions of racism and systemic discrimination because they could not ask the experts what impact this would have on the law. But in the end, they endorsed the changes. Only the Bloc Québécois opposed it.
The bill’s instigator, former MP and interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, is not worried about these additions. “I’m comfortable with it,” she said in an interview with The duty. The objective of the bill was to establish compulsory training for judges, she recalls, but also to ensure that these training courses take into account the “social context”. “So I think the committee wanted to put flesh around this word: social context. The fact that the list defining this “social context” has remained short reassures her.
Mme Ambrose first introduced this bill in 2017 after a judge asked a victim why she had not “put her knees”. But this bill got stuck in the Senate, where the Conservatives refused to give it priority consideration. The government returned to the charge itself in February.
The tea towel burns
This is not the first time that the Bloc Québécois has found itself in opposition to the Liberal Party, the NDP and the Green Party on issues of racism. In June, Mr. Blanchet’s formation blocked the adoption of a NDP motion that would have ruled that there is systemic racism within the RCMP. This had led the NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh, to call the Bloc Québécois Alain Therrien a “racist”.
Last week, the Bloc defended a professor’s right to use the n-word for academic purposes, which received scathing attacks from the NDP and the Green Party. New Democrat Matthew Green told the CBC network that the Bloc “is actually defending the prerogative of preserving white supremacy”.
The Bloc Québécois now refuses to speak to the NDP. “We don’t speak to them,” blurted out Mr. Blanchet. Because some recent events confirm to us that until otherwise noted, they are not worthy of communication between adults. “
Following this same logic, Yves-François Blanchet suspects that the Liberals wanted to include “systemic discrimination” in the C-3 not only out of a sincere concern to fight racism, but also to make this issue a partisan issue. “It is also a tool of partisan politics that we are trying to slip through the throats of Quebec and Quebecers to make them feel guilty and make political mileage in Canada. “