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A Liberal Party Member of Parliament who was revealed to have made a number of derogatory comments towards Indigenous people and Chinese-Canadians last October quoted Nelson Mandela on the floor of the Commons' Indigenous affairs committee while claiming that Canada is experiencing "heightened acts of racism and discrimination."
“One of the things that Nelson Mandela once said was education was the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” the MP said, according to Blacklock's Reporter.
The comments come from MP Jaime Battiste, who represents the riding of Sydney-Victoria in Nova Scotia. He stated that racism in Canada is "really disheartening to talk about, but I think it’s important.”
The MP, however, was only last year embroiled in his own racism scandal.
“Why do I assume every skinny aboriginal girl is on crystal meth or pills?” inquired Battiste in a 2012 tweet. He also made fun of the accents of Chinese-Canadians wishing to participate in Christmas caroling, tweeting “Deck the haaas with bell of jorry, fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra raaa.” He was 23 at the time.
Battiste was proposing a motion to “educate and create awareness of Indigenous history and rights in Canada.” While he did not acknowledge his own history of racist comments, he did acknowledge the "great work going on across the provinces on anti-racism."
The MP also made a number of other tweets which received widespread criticism, including tweeting that "men's tennis... sounds exactly like gay porn" and making light of sexual assault and animal abuse at the same time as he tweeted "I would accidentally sexually assault a cougar – twice."
Battiste apologized for the tweets once they were brought to light, stating that he takes "full responsibility" and that the tweets "during a time of heartbreak and depression." Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was facing his own racism scandal at the time after it was revealed that he wore "brownface" on at least three occasions, accepted Battiste's apology and refused to remove him as a candidate.
While Battiste managed to carry the riding, which has voted consistently Liberal since 2000, the Liberal's vote share dropped by over 42 percent percent as Battiste narrowly beat the Conservative candidate by 1,309 votes.