Politics

Black parliamentarians say protest convoy is a venue for 'white supremacists'

A group representing Black MPs and senators is calling the protest convoy that's been encamped for a week around Parliament Hill a venue for extremists.

Federal Black parliamentary caucus is calling for something stronger than denunciations of the convoy

Trucks are parked on Metcalfe Street as a rally against COVID-19 restrictions, which began as a cross-country convoy protesting a federal vaccine mandate for truckers, continues in Ottawa. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

A group representing Black MPs and senators is calling the protest convoy that's been encamped for a week around Parliament Hill a venue for "white supremacists" and other extremists.

"The 'Freedom Convoy' protest became an opportunity for white supremacists and others with extreme and disturbing views to parade their odious views in public," the Black parliamentary caucus said in a news release Friday.

"This is unacceptable. These displays of hatred and violence offend Canadians and have no place in our country."

The caucus said the protesters' clear goal is to intimidate politicians and the money raised to support the protest could be used to bankroll "domestic white supremacist terrorism."

The parliamentarians also cited links between protesters and extremist organizations — and the fact that some of them have stated their objective is to overthrow the federal government. Some of the protest organizers have publicly denounced those views.

The caucus called on the government and opposition MPs to move beyond statements condemning hatred and violence. It said that the money raised through the crowdfunding site GoFundMe by convoy organizers — over $10.1 million — was collected with "neither transparency nor accountability."

The Parliamentary Black Caucus also said MPs must take a closer look at how police have managed the protesters. Ottawa's police service has come in for heavy criticism for permitting the protesters to snarl traffic throughout the downtown and sound their truck horns at all hours.

"There have been lots of discussions about how this has been handled and whether the response would have been the same if the protestors were predominantly Black or Indigenous," said Senator Rosemary Moodie, the co-chair of the federal Black caucus, in a follow-up email.

 "I agree that this is an important question we need to tackle."

Protesters' vehicles are restricting access to downtown Ottawa, causing the closure of businesses and service centres, a COVID-19 vaccine clinic and an elementary school.

"Parliament must conduct a fulsome examination of the events of the past week, including the role of the various police and intelligence services," the caucus's statement said. "We believe Parliament would benefit from examining these issues and understanding the changes that are needed."

The caucus also called for a ban on displays of hate symbols such as the Confederate flag — widely used as an emblem of white supremacy. At least one Confederate flag was spotted among the protesters recently and swastikas have been seen in the crowds around Parliament Hill as well.

"This is unacceptable. These displays of hatred and violence offend Canadians and have no place in our country," the caucus said.

The other co-chair of the federal Black caucus, Liberal MP Greg Fergus, received a standing ovation in the House of Commons Wednesday after giving an emotional speech about the harm such symbols cause.

WATCH: MP Greg Fergus speaks about the Confederate flag in the House of Commons

'In some people's eyes I am not equal, nor should I be free' — MP Greg Fergus on hate symbols at protest convoy

5 months ago
Duration 1:54
Responding to symbols of hate brandished by protesters in Ottawa, MP Greg Fergus tells the House of Commons why he celebrates Black History month.

NDP MP Peter Julian tabled a private members bill Thursday that would outlaw selling or displaying swastikas and other Nazi emblems, Klu Klux Klan symbols and Confederate flags.


For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Thurton

Senior reporter, Parliamentary Correspondent

David Thurton is a senior reporter in CBC's Parliamentary Bureau. He covers daily politics in the nation’s capital and specializes in environment and energy policy. Born in Canada but raised in Trinidad and Tobago, he’s moved around more times than he can count. He’s worked for CBC in several provinces and territories, including Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

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