Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, known for his tough stand on human rights in his dealings with China, is taking an equally ethical posture against racism and xenophobia, in the wake of the coronavirus scare, the CBC network reported.
Speaking at a Lunar New Year celebration at a banquet in Toronto, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to stay united and warned against the rise of discrimination as fears of the coronavirus expand.
“There is no place in our country for discrimination driven by fear or misinformation,” Trudeau said. “This is not something Canadians will ever stand for.”
The comments come just days after politicians, public health officials and members of the Chinese Canadian community in Toronto said that more needed to be done to avoid a recurrence of the racism and xenophobia experienced during the 2003 SARS outbreak, the report said.
Public health officials in Canada confirmed another person tested positive for coronavirus on Friday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to four — three in Ontario and one in B.C., the report said.
But while case numbers are increasing rapidly in China, there’s been no widespread transmission outside that country.
The Public Health Agency of Canada, which is working alongside provinces and territories to monitor the novel coronavirus, says the risk to Canadians is low, the report said.
Despite the low risk of transmission in this country, news of the virus has led to the re-emergence of racist tropes that target Asian people based on their ethnicity, the report said.
Justin Kong, the executive director of the Toronto chapter of the Chinese Canadian National Council, said Asian Canadians have become the targets of xenophobic comments in recent days, both online and offline.
“If someone looks Chinese or appears to be Asian, the assumption is that they’re virus carriers,” said Kong in an interview on CBC News Network. “We saw this with SARS, Ebola, and often it has a racial tinge to it.”
In his remarks, Trudeau sought to show his support for those who have been victims of discrimination and those worried about loved ones abroad, the report said.
“I know it’s been a tough start of the year for many of you,” Trudeau said. “Our government will always stand with you. We will always speak up against division.”
Health Minister Patty Hajdu declined to declare a public health emergency, despite the US doing so. She told CBC’s Power and Politics host Vassy Kapelos that Canada was closely following the guidelines of the World Health Organization.
US President Donald Trump and Trudeau discussed their countries’ efforts to monitor, contain, and mitigate the coronavirus in a phone call on Friday, the White House said.