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Justice (25-42)

Tory MP says he misspoke after NDP MP accuses him of making anti-Indigenous comment

June 6, 2024

The comments were related to James Smith Cree Nation killer’s background

A man in a navy suit speaks in the House of Commons.
Conservative MP Brad Redekopp speaks in the House of Commons on June 4, 2024. (Parliament of Canada)

CBC News: The Canadian Press – A Conservative MP apologized in the House of Commons on Thursday after an Indigenous colleague from across the political aisle called him out for linking an offender’s criminal record to his race.

Brad Redekopp says he misspoke earlier this week when he brought up the 2022 mass stabbings in Saskatchewan during a debate about measures to address systemic racism within the RCMP.

On Tuesday, the Saskatoon MP criticized parole officers for releasing Myles Sanderson on parole before the James Smith Cree Nation member committed the killings.

He incorrectly suggested that the parole board predicted Sanderson “was likely to reoffend because of his racial background.”

The Conservative Party sought to correct the record — not by striking the claim altogether but by changing it to say “regardless” of his racial background, instead of “because” of his racial background.

In a statement to The Canadian Press, Redekopp said he misspoke and “proactively asked that the record be corrected” to reflect his intent and “to avoid any misunderstanding or offence.”

Winnipeg MP Leah Gazan said she noticed the change in the House of Commons official record the next day, and said she expected an apology to follow.

A politician points while giving a speech.
NDP member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre Leah Gazan speaks in the House of Commons. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

On Thursday, Gazan stood in the House of Commons and demanded that he take accountability.

He stood in response and delivered an apology.

“Once again, I apologize for misspeaking. I never meant to offend anyone. I never meant to cast any aspersions on anyone because of race,” he said in the House.

But Gazan said in the House that she doesn’t accept Redekopp’s explanation, or the way he apologized.

She asked the Speaker to rule that the House of Commons should revert the record back to the original language, arguing that the Conservatives are trying to “whitewash” what happened.

“I would ask that the member reflect upon this, and I would ask that the official record actually reflect what occurred — what we all heard, and what the member has admitted to having said — rather than being rewritten to avoid accountability and responsibility,” Gazan said.

The matter is under consideration.

MP says comments had nothing to do with race

“What he said in there was hurtful, it was harmful, it was offensive and it was racist,” Gazan said in an interview earlier on Thursday.

Redekopp insisted in his written statement that his comment had nothing to do with race, “only the facts of the case at hand.”

An investigation into the earlier release of Sanderson, who was accused of killing 11 people and injuring 17 others, found the Parole Board of Canada could not have foreseen the worst mass murder in Saskatchewan’s history.

The National Joint Board of Investigation also found there were “no pre-incident indicators or precipitating events that were known to staff, or that staff could have acted upon to prevent this incident.”

Gazan accuses Conservatives of repeated rhetoric

For Gazan, it’s another example of what she calls a pattern of anti-Indigenous rhetoric by Conservative politicians.

She listed off several examples.

Earlier this year, Saskatchewan MP Kevin Waugh apologized after he accused First Nations of burning down water treatment plants because they’re frustrated with the Liberals.

In 2018, an NDP motion that called on the Pope to apologize for residential schools got overwhelming support in the House of Commons — except from 10 Conservative MPs.

And in 2008, before he was leader of the Conservative Party, Pierre Poilievre apologized after saying Indigenous people need to learn the value of hard work more than they need compensation for abuse suffered in residential schools.

Last year, Poilievre also came under fire for speaking to a Winnipeg-based group that ran radio ads in 2018 that said it was a myth that residential schools robbed Indigenous children of their childhood.

“There’s a pattern of anti-Indigenous racism that occurs in the House,” Gazan said, “and certain members of political parties want to protect the rights and freedoms for some, but not others.”

A spokesperson for Poilievre didn’t respond to a request for comment.