Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Many, many Canadians were shocked to see the violence surrounding the murder of George Floyd. George Floyd's murder is a grim reminder that anti-black racism still exists and that it hits hard.
Anti-black racism isn't only in the United States; it's here in Canada, too. Systemic racism against blacks, indigenous people and many other visible minorities is alive and well: racial profiling, economic inequality, social inequality, discriminatory hiring, trivialization of violence, excess incarceration, and so on. Things aren't moving forward because one government after another prefers pretty words to concrete action. When the time comes to act, they don't have the courage, they don't have the will to act.
People are feeling a lot of grief and frustration, but we can turn that into action and justice. We must not just call for peace. I believe that we have to call for justice. Justice is the only way to create a better world.
When people around the world saw the killing of George Floyd, it left all of us shaken to our core. It was chilling, the casual violence of anti-black racism, the callous taking of another human being's life. It hurt to the core. There was pain. There was sadness. There is anger, and rightly so. There is frustration.
This isn't just an American problem. This is just as much a Canadian problem as well, and something that continues to exist across our country. Anti-black racism and anti-indigenous racism are real. People have suffered violence. Indigenous people and black people have suffered violence and have been killed at the hands of police here in Canada. I think about Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Toronto and the calls for justice for Regis. A black trans woman was killed in suspicious circumstances in an interaction with the police. I think about Stewart Kevin Andrews, a young indigenous man killed in an interaction with the police in Winnipeg.
The anger and frustration are about this: How many more people need to die before there's action? How many more speeches will be made? How many more protests need to happen before something is done? How many more times will people plead to breathe? How many more times will they plead to live?
What we're talking about is basic human dignity. How many more voices have to ask, demand, plead, beg for basic human dignity? People are angry. They're feeling like enough is enough. Why do they need to keep on asking? Why do black people, why do indigenous people need to keep on asking to be treated like humans? Why?
You know, people are done with pretty speeches, particularly pretty speeches from people in power who could do something about it right now if they wanted to.
I'm standing in a hall of power, the chamber of the Commons, with a Prime Minister who has the power not just to say pretty words but to actually do something about this. The Prime Minister of this country has the power to go beyond pretty words and pretty speeches and do something.
I don't have all the answers. I don't think any one person does. We're going to have to come up with those solutions together, but there are certainly some things we do know.
Martin Luther King said, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” That's what we need. We need justice.
Killer Mike extolled that people should plan, plot, strategize, organize and then mobilize. Cardi B put it this way: “Another way for the people to take power—I don't want to make everything political but it is what it is—is by voting.”
So what do we vote for? We vote for a government to take action.
I call on the Prime Minister, in this hall of power: If the Prime Minister believes that black lives matter, will the Prime Minister commit to ending racial profiling in our country? If the Prime Minister believes that black lives matter, will the Prime Minister commit to ending the over-policing of black bodies? If the Prime Minister believes, truly believes, that black lives matter, will the Prime Minister commit to ending the over-incarceration of black people in this country? If the Prime Minister truly believes that black lives matter, will he commit to ensuring that there are race-based data to make better decisions? Will he commit to ensuring that there's access to education and to health resources?
The Prime Minister has the power to do all these things right now. The Prime Minister simply needs to get it done.
If the Prime Minister truly believes that indigenous lives matter, then similarly the Prime Minister must commit today to ending the racial profiling of indigenous people, the over-policing of indigenous people and the over-incarceration of indigenous people. If the Prime Minister truly believes that indigenous lives matter, the Prime Minister could stop taking indigenous kids to court; the Prime Minister could stop delaying the action on the calls for justice for the murdered and missing indigenous women and girls. If the Prime Minister believes that indigenous lives matter, he could ensure that there's clean drinking water and access to justice and to education and housing right now.
People are angry because they are frustrated and done with pretty words. People are angry because they're done with pretty speeches from people in power who could do something about it right now. People don't want peace. They don't want an absence of tension. People want the presence of justice. People want justice. People deserve justice. People need justice, and justice is what people will get. Nothing less will do.