Tory MP’s comparison of Indigenous protestors to those carrying Nazi flags in Ottawa `disgusting,’ `dangerous,’ says NDP MLA 

By Dave Baxter

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A Manitoba politician and granddaughter of residential school survivors said she was “disgusted” after watching Manitoba MP Candice Bergen equate Indigenous protesters who vandalized statues in Winnipeg last summer to protesters that carried Nazi imagery and desecrated a war memorial in Ottawa over the weekend.

Thousands of protesters with the “Freedom Convoy” protested COVID-19 health orders and vaccine mandates in Ottawa over the weekend and many of those protesters remained in Ottawa as of Tuesday.

But not long after the protests began, disturbing images began surfacing including scenes of urine on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the draping of an upside-down Canada flag on a statue of Terry Fox, and even some protesters carrying signs with Nazi swastikas and imagery.

After those images surfaced Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he had no intentions of meeting with or engaging with any of the protesters.

But MP Candice Bergen, who represents the Portage-Lisgar riding of Manitoba, publicly defended protesters in Ottawa while speaking in the House of Commons on Monday and said the protesters deserved to have their voices heard.

“Canadians are outside today, patriotic, peace-loving Canadians who are being called misogynists and racist by the prime minister,”

Bergen said.

“There are thousands of passionate, patriotic, and peaceful Canadians on the Hill right now, who just want to be heard.”

When pushed in the House of Commons about Nazi imagery and other disturbing images from the protests, Bergen compared those incidents to incidents in Winnipeg in the summer when Indigenous protesters vandalized statues of Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Victoria in reaction to the discovery of unmarked graves near several former residential schools in Canada.

“We all condemn hateful and destructive acts by a few, at any protest,” Bergen said.

“Whether it’s beheading the statue of Queen Victoria in Manitoba, whether it’s burning churches, whether it’s wearing blackface, whether it’s Hezbollah flags or Nazi flags, we all condemn this.”

While speaking to the Winnipeg Sun on Tuesday morning, NDP MLA Nahanni Fontaine, whose family is originally from the Sagkeeng First Nation and who has relatives who were forced into residential schools, called Bergen’s comments “disgusting” and “dangerous.”

MP Candice Bergen “disgusting” and “dangerous” after Bergen compared Indigenous protesters who vandalized statues in Winnipeg last summer to protesters that carried Nazi imagery in Ottawa during the weekend.

“As an Indigenous woman and granddaughter and niece of esidential school survivors it is insulting and hurtful and dangerous to equate the actions we saw last summer at a time when we were finding unmarked graves to protesters who are upset because they don’t want to get a vaccine,” a frustrated Fontaine said on Tuesday.

“There is no comparing that, and you have to be pretty ignorant or willfully trying to sow anti-Indigenous sentiment to try and draw a comparison between the two.”

Fontaine said she now believes that some politicians in Manitoba are siding with anti-vaccine protesters and diminishing some of the disturbing incidents in Ottawa over the weekend in an effort to please parts of their base and secure votes.

“You can’t give one inch of credibility to white supremacy and white nationalism symbols and if that is what you are doing then what kind of human being are you?” she said.

“Morally what kind of person are you?”

Fontaine said she is also disturbed because anti-vaccine and anti-health order protests are a “slap in the face” to health care workers across Canada who have been working through the constant challenges brought on by the pandemic.

“If I were to show you the messages I get from the health-care workers on the frontlines you would see that they are exhausted, they feel disrespected and they are fed up with the lack of respect and the lack of responsibility that people are taking for the health and the care of all of us,” Fontaine said.

“It is so frustrating to know they have been putting their lives on the line for two years straight and to have this happen right in front of their faces and have politicians embrace this is so demoralizing and so heartbreaking.”

– Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

 

 

 

 

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