Canadian party leader kicked out of parliament after accusing MP of racism

Jagmeet Singh is seen in October 2019 (AFP Photo/Don MacKinnon)

Ottawa (AFP) - The leader of a Canadian political party was temporarily kicked out of the House of Commons Wednesday after refusing to apologize for calling another MP a racist.

New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh, a devout Sikh and the first non-white leader of a Canadian federal political party, had gotten into a heated argument with a Bloc Quebecois MP.

Singh had asked the House to unanimously pass a motion recognizing systemic racism in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and calling for a review of its budget.

He and Bloc Quebecois house leader Alain Therrien exchanged words over the Bloc MP's refusal to support the motion, according to parliamentary video and confirmed by an NDP spokesperson to AFP.

After another MP complained, Singh then rose and acknowledged to the House: "It's true, I called him a racist."

For his use of unparliamentary language and his refusal to apologize, the House speaker ordered Singh out for the remainder of the day's sitting.

In a statement, the Bloc said racism in policing should be studied by a parliamentary committee and that it was "inappropriate" for the NDP to preempt its conclusions.

Singh told a news conference it was a "dismissive gesture" that set him off.

"With that simple gesture, (Therrien) dismissed the experiences of indigenous communities and people who have been killed and brutalized (by police) in the same way others have done for decades," he said. "And I got angry."

He also said that he is now "sad" that lawmakers were unable to come together to support "straightforward changes" to policing in Canada.

"Someone can act racist in the House of Commons and not get kicked out. And someone can call them out for doing something racist and get kicked out. You figure that out," he added.

This all came amid worldwide anti-racism protests following the recent death in police custody of a black man, George Floyd, in the US state of Minnesota.

Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that systemic racism exists in all Canadian institutions, including the federal police.