Canada's deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland told media that it's “important for us to name” the London, Ont. attack as “an act of terror” and as an "act of Islamophobia."
Nathaniel Veltman stands accused of deliberately killing four members of the same Muslim family by hitting them with his truck on June 6.
The comments pre-emptively identifying the attack as terrorism were made during a press conference on the Liberal budget earlier this morning with Freeland and House Leader Pablo Rodriguez.
When asked by CBC reporter Tom Parry if “all parties need to do better” on fighting Islamophobia, Freeland gave a lengthy reply while choking back tears:
“Ah, thank you for the question Tom, I'm not sure, there was a little bit of static on my line at the beginning but I think I got the gist of it.
“Um, look, uh, the absolutely horrific killing act of terrorism in London, Ontario, needs to be taken extremely seriously by all Canadians. And particular those of us who are not racialized, those of us who are not Muslim, need to really understand that Islamophobia exists in our country, that white supremacism exists in our country, that terrorist attacks happen in our country, which is so wonderful, but still flawed.
“Terrorists attacks targeting Muslim Canadians happen in Canada. And we all need to take that very, very seriously. And we need to work very very hard to end Islamophobia and to stand up against white supremacism. Of course, that is a job for government. Of course, that is the job for all political leaders across the country, but I think it's more than that. I think this is a job for every single Canadian, and something that we all need to work on together. Um, I'm glad that our government has taken some meaningful steps in this direction, you know, with hindsight, I'm glad that as foreign minister I spoke at the UN Security Council and used the words 'Islamophobia' and 'white supremacism' and said these were terrorist threats.
“I'm sorry, so sorry that the attacks showed that to be right. But I want to say, speaking for our government, we absolutely appreciate the job is not done, there is a lot more we need to do, uh, we are listening really hard to our Muslim colleagues, to our Muslim constituents, and I want to say to them: We absolutely are with you, and as a country we need to do much much better. As a government, we are committed to working with you to make that change happen.”
When asked if her comments that Parliament is “toxic” signal that it's time for an election, Rodriguez answered first: “We're not talking about an election on our side, that's for sure.”
CityNews' Cormac Mac Sweeney brought the issue up later in the conference, asking Freeland for a reaction on the news that domestic terrorism charges have been laid against the suspect of the London attack, and whether the federal government was willing to add more financial support to a proposed national summit on Islamophobia.
“...again on the terrorist attack in London, I think it is really important for us to name it as an act of terror, it is important for us to identify this as act of Islamophobia, and it is important for us to identify the terrible threat that white supremacism poses to Canada and to Canadians.
“Uh, [inaudible] it's important for the courts and the judicial process to do its work. And uh, I think that, you know the fact that the anti-Islamophobia summit is now going to happen is a really important step. The federal government has already invested in the fight against Islamophobia and against white supremacism. As I said earlier today, clearly, there is a lot more work to do. And we're going to continue to do that work. And we must. It's a real, real priority. And I believe it's a priority for the whole country, this definitely goes beyond politics.
The Liberals have announced that they will be limiting further debate on the 2021 budget implementation bill in order to finance COVID-19 support programs until the fall.