‘I’m not racist’: Jagmeet Singh’s heckler posts video defending herself
Kayla Goodfield, CTV News Toronto
Published Monday, September 11, 2017 4:50PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 12, 2017 1:03PM EDT
A heckler seen confronting NDP leadership hopeful Jagmeet Singh at a Brampton campaign event last week has posted a response video saying she is “not racist.”
The original video posted online by Brampton Focus on Thursday showed a woman consistently interrupting and disrupting Singh as he addressed a chanting crowd.
At the event, the woman, standing just inches from Singh, is heard saying she is an advocate for women and children as she accused the politician of supporting Sharia law and the Muslim Brotherhood.
“We know you’re in bed with Sharia,” she said. “We know you’re in bed with the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Singh, who is Sikh and not Muslim, addressed the heckler saying “we believe in love and courage,” to which the woman began applauding and screaming “absolutely.”
“We don’t want hatred to ruin a positive event,” Singh said before the woman exited the room on her own free will.
Once she left, he continued to speak to the crowd.
“You know growing up as a brown skin turban bearded man that I’ve faced things like this before and it’s not a problem, we can deal with it,” he said. “There’s going to be other obstacles that we’re going to face and we’re going to face them with love and courage.”
After this confrontation, the woman – who identified herself as Jennifer Bush on YouTube – posted a response video title “Jagmeet Singh Heckler – Her Side Of The Story” on Saturday.
“I went to confront Jagmeet Singh about his policies,” she said. “First off, I recognize that he is a Sikh and not a Muslim. My concern was his policies, what he’s voting for, what that represents for Canadians.”
“I’m not racist. I strongly support the Hindus, we work together on a regular basis to get political ideas moving, to move our country together. Colour, race, religion – they’re really not the point here, the point is the policies.”
The video’s description said Bush was at “Ford Fest” – an annual event held on Friday evening by the Ford family in Etobicoke where Doug Ford announced his run for mayor of Toronto in 2018 – at the time of the recording.
Singh explained his initial reaction on Twitter Saturday, saying the incident in Brampton wasn’t the first time he faced “angry, hateful and Islamophobic comments.”
“Many people have commented that I could have just said I’m not Muslim,” he said. “In fact, many have clarified that I’m actually Sikh. While I’m proud of who I am, I purposely didn’t go down that road because it suggests their hate would be ok if I was Muslim. We all know it’s not. I didn’t answer the question because my response to Islamophobia has never been ‘I’m not Muslim.’ It has always been and will be that ‘hate is wrong.’”
“Despite this person’s anger and hate, I told them that we loved them, respected them, and would protect their rights,” he said.
Speaking with CTV News on Saturday, political consultant Michael Geoghegan said the way Singh handled the heckler was “exemplary.”
“(He was) able to defuse a situation through positive energy and I think in a way that was actually kind of courageous,” he said.
The online video also caught the attention of many other names, including CNN’s Jake Tapper.
In a tweet, Tapper said “This ignorant woman is infuriating. I hope wherever she is someone who cares about her is showing her how awful she looks here.”
Erin Tolley, an associate professor at the University of Toronto, told The Canadian Press Saturday that if Singh is voted as NDP leader in October then he will be the first federal leader of colour selected by party members in Canada.