UK markets closed

NDP leader faces criticism for TikTok video taking PM to task

Supporters of the indigenous Wet'suwet'en Nation's hereditary chiefs pass by CN Rail as they march as part of protests against British Columbia's Coastal GasLink pipeline, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada February 25, 2020. (REUTERS/Christinne Muschi)

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is facing pushback for a video he posted criticizing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s lack of action over the Wet'suwet'en protests.

The video, posted to the social media site TikTok, shows Singh pouring a glass jug of water into another glass jug labeled “Justin Trudeau’s empty words”, which is next to another empty jug labeled “Justin Trudeau’s actions”.  

“What, huh...ok,” he says, in a voice that’s been altered to sound high pitch, as he starts pouring water into the empty jug. 

Many have celebrated Singh’s embrace of the social media platform, which is popular among teenagers. However, people on Twitter felt this video in particular minimized the challenges faced by First Nations people.

Others felt Singh’s video was effective.

Each party leader has taken a different stance on the issue of confronting the protests, which include rail road blockades across the country that have halted travel and business for many Canadians. The action is in solidarity and support with the Wet’suwet’en Nation in British Columbia. The five clans’ hereditary chiefs rejected a multi-billion dollar pipeline that would transfer natural gas across the northern part of the province and cut the Wet’suwet’en territory in half.

Trudeau has long campaigned on the intention to help Indigenous people and work towards reconciliation. However, many have felt that he’s not done enough in his attempt to resolve the blockades. 

Last week he told reporters in Ottawa that “every attempt at dialogue has been made but discussions have not been productive. We cannot have dialogue when only one party is coming to the table,”  before stressing that “the barricades must now come down. The injunctions must be obeyed and the law must be upheld.”

Outgoing Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has been more hard-lined with his criticism about the blockades and how the Liberal government is dealing with the situation.

“Radical activists – many of whom have no connection to the Wet’suwet’en people – are holding the country’s economy hostage,” he said, calling Trudeau’s prior pleas for patience from the country the “weakest response to a national crisis.” 

Meanwhile, Singh has acknowledged that the situation is “complex” but that the government isn’t doing enough. He also said that police presence at the site of the blockade “is not going to solve anything”. 

"People are really frustrated, and rightly so," he said. "If you look across Canada, First Nations, Métis and Inuit (people) are frustrated with inaction at the federal level of government and the provincial level of government."