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'Hate is being emboldened': Singh on NDP's push to ban hate symbols

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The federal NDP is advocating for the government to ban the display of three different hate symbols, which leader Jagmeet Singh says are being used to mobilize movements.

Bill C-229, tabled by NDP MP Peter Julian last week, would prohibit the “display or sale” of symbols or emblems such as the Nazi swastika, the Ku Klux Klan’s insignia, and the Confederate flag.

“It’s very clear what they stand for and it’s very clear they should not have any place in Canada. That’s why we’re limiting this to a very specific set of symbols,” he said during an interview on CTV’s Question Period airing Sunday.

“Hate is being emboldened ... hate is very much like a fire. Once it’s allowed to take hold, it spreads and it starts consuming everything.”

He said hate symbols are appearing in public more frequently in Canada, most recently at the trucker convoy protests in downtown Ottawa.

“There was a time in the States with Trump where that certainly was happening and now we’re seeing some of that resurging here. To imagine swastikas, to imagine the Confederate flag, and KKK kind of paraphernalia in Canada. Those two other symbols were in this protest…it’s just something that we don’t want to see in Canada,” he said.

If the legislation passes, anyone who is found to have contravened the law could face a prison sentence of a maximum of two years. It would amend Section 319 of the Criminal Code, which already bans the public incitement of hatred and the wilful promotion of hatred.

In the same interview, Singh said both the Conservatives and the Liberals are treating the escalating convoy tensions as a “game” to score political points.

“I think on both sides – the Conservatives are clearly using this, they’re weaponizing this convoy, they’re using it for political gain. The Liberals are also not innocent here, they’re also looking at this as a wedge issue,” he said.

Singh added that the Conservatives specifically are “emboldening” some of the worst of what’s been seen at the protests.

“They’re not making it clear that it’s wrong to have organizers of this to be openly divisive and hateful,” he said.

Several Conservative MPs, including interim leader Candice Bergen, have attended the rally and taken photos with members of the convoy.

However, Bergen has denounced racist behaviour and violent acts occurring as a part of the protests. 

Members of the Black parliamentary caucus issued a statement Friday about the protests, also calling for the banning of symbols of “hate and terror.”

“We are disturbed and alarmed by the protests of the past days in Ottawa and Gatineau. 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 statement reads.

“These displays of hatred and violence offend Canadians and have no place in our country.”

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