Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested that some of the opposition to Islamophobia legislation was an example of sexism.
Speaking Friday to a Women in the World conference in Toronto, Trudeau took aim at the official opposition Conservatives and accused them of not recognizing gender equality.
A private member’s motion was passed in March by female Member of Parliament Iqra Khalid, that identified a “public climate of hate and fear” in Canada and demanded that Islamophobia be treated as a hate crime and be subject to prosecution under the Canadian criminal code.
“Women who have made it, who have succeeded, who have gotten elected are now two years into it and wondering ‘Is this really what I signed up for?’ because of the nastiness, because of the negativity,” Trudeau said, according to the Canadian Press.
He said the Toronto-area Liberal MP “ended up experiencing death threats and a level of online violence and commentary and viral videos against her that were quite terrifying.”
Khalid went through a “very difficult time” and considered resigning as an MP, Trudeau said. Critics of her motion said it would be a threat to free speech in Canada.
Trudeau also suggested that the Conservatives are also exhibiting more “pushback” than are U.S. negotiators to the prime minister’s insistence that gender equality and climate change issues be enshrined in a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement.
“The pushback we’re getting is actually not from south of the border, the pushback we’re getting is from Canadian Conservatives who said ‘Oh no this is about economics, it’s about jobs. … It’s not about rhetorical flourishes of being good on environment or being good on gender,'” Trudeau said.
Trudeau suggested the Conservatives are a “supposedly responsible political party…that still doesn’t get that gender equality is a fundamental economic issue” and said “we still have a lot of work to do in Canada.”