OTTAWA — Jagmeet Singh apologized before he interrupted a reporter Friday to atone for a comment he made a day earlier, stating New Democrats “don’t respect Conservatives.”
The NDP leader made the flippant remark during a campaign stop Welland, Ont., Thursday. Asked if he would respect a hypothetical Conservative majority, Singh responded, laughing: “We don’t respect Conservatives, no.”
Singh bought up the comment again to a crowd of supporters in Port Alberni, B.C., saying he felt “really bad” about it.
“I believe that we need to build a country where we welcome everybody, we respect everybody, and I feel bad about what I said,” he said, holding an eagle feather in one hand and a microphone in the other.
Watch: Singh urges voters to ignore Liberal warnings about voting for NDP. Story continues below.
He tried to offer an explanation. Conservatives cut services, Singh explained, calling such decision-making hurtful and wrong.
“We’re going to have differences of opinions. I want to make it clear: Our whole movement has been about making sure people feel welcome, they feel accepted and people should be accepted no matter what their political views are.”
Singh’s remark came up during a Conservative Party campaign stop in Fredericton. Leader Andrew Scheer said he respects all Canadians after he was asked if he respects NDP supporters.
“I can disagree with people without insulting them. And I’ve even had members of my own family run for the NDP — and I still certainly respect them,” he said, referencing his brother-in-law Steve Ryan, who ran two unsuccessful campaigns with the Saskatchewan NDP.
“And we still have lots of great conversations around the dinner table.”
Federal leaders and parties are being careful with every message they say in the last days of the campaign before Canadians head to the polls Oct. 21.
Scheer raised eyebrows Thursday, making an unsubstantiated claim that a hypothetical Liberal-NDP coalition would increase the federal goods and services tax (GST). The party also published a press release citing no evidence either the Liberals or NDP have made such a statement.
The party’s director of communications offered an explanation, saying Scheer is raising possible consequences of a Liberal-NDP coalition. “Without Trudeau explaining to Canadians which taxes he will raise to buy the NDP’s support, we’re left to guess,” explained Brock Harrison. “Could be the GST. Could be something else.”
Both the Liberals and NDP dismissed Scheer’s factless attack.
“Those claims are entirely untrue,” said Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau during a campaign stop in Whitby. “It is unfortunate that the Conservatives keep having to make up attacks against us.”
Liberals and Conservatives have been spending money on ad campaigns spreading disinformation on wedge issues such as gun control and drugs.
Singh said the NDP “absolutely will not” raise the GST because it’s not a “progressive” tax. Scheer is “making stuff up because he’s getting desperate,” he said.