OTTOWA, Canada. — The leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party, Jagmeet Singh, was made to leave parliament on Wednesday after calling another politician “racist.”
Singh made the accusation in the House of Commons after Alain Therrien, from the Bloc Québécois party, declined to support a motion calling on parliament to acknowledge the existence of systemic racism in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police force.
The motion also set out that de-escalation should be a police priority, that the use of police force should be reviewed and that additional funding should be given to health services.
However, while the motion had broad support from members of parliament, Therrien rejected it, leading it to be struck down.
Singh accused Therrien of being “racist.” When challenged on his comments, he doubled down, saying: “I did call him a racist.”
The accusation broke parliamentary rules. Asked to apologize and withdraw his comments, Singh refused and was ordered by Speaker Anthony Rota to leave for the remainder of the day. He was allowed to return on Thursday.
Addressing the incident in a video posted on Twitter, Singh, who has been a vocal critic of what he deems to be “systemic racism” in the Canadian police force, said he became angry when, he claimed, Therrien “made eye contact” with him and brushed his hand in a way Singh interpreted to be dismissive.
“I’ll be honest, I got angry,” he said in the video posted to his Twitter account. “But I’m sad now. Because why can’t we act? Why can’t we do something to save people’s lives? We can do something, and why would someone say no to that?”
In the video, he said indigenous and black people in the country were being killed and “brutalized” and that there had been a lack of government action.
Bloc Québécois tweeted to address the exchange and urged Singh to apologize for his remarks, which they said “tarnished” Therrien’s reputation.
In a Twitter thread the party said it recognized racism was a major issue and had already supported an inquiry by the Public Safety Committee into systemic racism.
The party said it did not support the motion because to do so, it said, would inappropriately impose conclusions on the committee before the inquiry was concluded.
CNN has attempted to contact Therrien and Bloc Québécois for further comment.