Trudeau's Toronto speech 'obscene,' says multiculturalism minister Kenney

Laura Beaulne-Stuebing
Politics Contributor
Canada Politics
Justin Trudeau addresses students at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C. March 4, 2015. (CP)

Defence and multiculturalism minister Jason Kenney is hitting back at Justin Trudeau after the Liberal party leader accused the Conservative government of stoking fear and prejudice against Muslim Canadians.

On Monday night, Trudeau delivered a speech at the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada in Toronto and said the government is using the same kind of rhetoric against Muslims as the country has in other past, shameful, periods.

He likened the government’s policies to other “dark” episodes in Canadian history, including the internment of Ukrainian, Japanese and Italians during the world wars, as well as turning away boats of Jewish refugees.

Trudeau pointed to the government’s anti-terror legislation and the prime minister’s stance that it is “offensive” for Muslim women to cover their faces during the Canadian citizenship ceremony.

"It is a cruel joke to claim you are liberating people from oppression by dictating in law what they can and cannot wear," Trudeau said.

"Fear is a dangerous thing,” he continued. “Once stoked, whether by a judge from the bench or a prime minister with a dog whistle, there is no way to predict where it will end."

Kenney retaliated and took to Twitter Tuesday morning to call out the Liberal leader.

Kenney added that he’s proud of the diversity of the Conservative caucus and to be a member of the first political party to elect a Canadian Muslim MP.

Anti-terrorism rhetoric, and some would say anti-Muslim rhetoric, has ramped up since attacks on a Canadian soldiers in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and in Ottawa last October. Members of the government continually cite these incidents as reasons for C-51, the anti-terror bill that has received criticism both inside and outside the House of Commons.

The government has also used menacing images of Jihadis in attempts to rally support around the bill, which saw the first of nine days of study at a parliamentary committee on Tuesday, on social media and through email pitches.

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