A former federal employee who worked on the Community Support, Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Initiatives program claims that she was reprimanded after she spoke out against Justin Trudeau’s past blackface incidents.
The 39-year-old, Manjot Bains, claims that the negative response to her criticisms of the Prime Minister led to her quitting her job at the Department of Canadian Heritage in Vancouver.
Several photographs of Trudeau wearing blackface over a period of several years emerged during the federal election. The three photographs show Trudeau in the racist costume while a high school student, as a whitewater rafting instructor and as a private school teacher.
During the election, several allegedly “non-partisan” public service unions campaigned for the re-election of Justin Trudeau. According to the Hill Times, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) was promised a “fair collective agreement” by the Liberals if re-elected in 2019.
The president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) Debi Daviau also stated that she expects the Liberal government to “reciprocate” them for their support before the vote.
According to Bains, her manager at the department told her she had made a big mistake after doing an interview with Huffington Post where she said she was shocked by Trudeau’s past behaviour.
“I was told repeatedly by senior leadership that I had broken the trust of my bosses, that I couldn’t be trusted as a public servant, and that I would have to earn it back. I could not critique the prime minister publicly, even though I didn’t disclose my job with the department in the article,” wrote Bains in an op-ed about the incident.
Bains notified her employer about the interview and was informed that public sector workers are not allowed to criticize the Prime Minister and that she would have to do “loyalty training” in order to keep her job. Her employer also allegedly told Bains that she would no longer be able to pursue her own projects, which included a website and podcast about South Asian culture and issues.
“I feel like by telling them I did the interview, it just snowballed into something really big. They escalated it so much when they didn’t have to,” Bains told the Huffington Post.
At an Oct. 11 meeting, Bains was also allegedly told that she couldn’t publicly speak about racism, despite her employment in the Anti-Racism Initiatives program. Her employment contract also claimed she had “the right to engage in political activities while maintaining the principle of political impartiality in the public service.”
The reaction from the federal government ultimately led to Bains’ resignation on Oct. 16.