Brian Lilley, a political columnist for the Toronto Sun, has drawn loud criticism online following a tweet about NDP leader Jagmeet Singh‘s turban.
On Wednesday, a parliamentary committee, which included Singh, gathered to hear testimony from Loblaws CEO Galen Weston about soaring food inflation and insecurity in Canada.
Singh, alongside the committee, pressed Weston for answers about whether he and other top grocery executives from Metro and Empire Co., which runs the chains Sobeys, Safeway and FreshCo, are price gouging.
In turn, Lilley took to Twitter to press Singh, who is Sikh, about the colour of his yellow turban.
“Jagmeet looks like he wore his No Name turban today just to grill Galen Weston at committee,” Lilley wrote, referencing Loblaws’ iconic yellow generic brand. “I know he changes the colours for special days or occaision [sic] but didn’t expect to see No Name yellow today. Is it on purpose or a coincidence?”
Immediately after posting, there were calls for Lilley to remove the tweet, which as of this writing, has been viewed 2.7 million times.
Sarah Hoffman, deputy leader of the NDP, replied to Lilley and called his tweet “racist.”
“Is that on purpose or a coincidence?” she wrote, mocking Lilley’s original post.
Liberal MP and Minister of International Development Harjit Sajjan responded to Lilley with a photo of himself wearing a black turban.
“Check out my No Name turban,” Sajjan wrote.
Others simply insisted that Lilley should delete the tweet.
As more backlash filled Lilley’s Twitter mentions, he responded to some of the critics.
“Wanna explain what is racist about this? I’ll guess you know zero Sikhs,” Lilley wrote. “How is noting the colour of his turban, which changes regularly, racist? White liberals should get to know some of the people they want to ‘protect.’”
In six separate tweets, Lilley insisted his post about Singh’s yellow turban was not racist or an attack on the Sikh community.
Global News reached out to Lilley for comment but did not receive an answer by publishing time.
Lilley’s tweet is not the first instance of Singh being questioned about his turban.
In 2019, while Singh was campaigning in Montreal, he was approached by a man who insisted he “cut off” his turban to “look like a Canadian.” Singh said the heckling was an example of the demeaning comments he and many others belonging to minority groups in Canada face “all the time.”
Singh said Canadians who get such comments should not feel they need to change who they are in order to “fit in, or to get ahead.”
Later in 2022, Singh was harassed by protesters in Peterborough, Ont., who insisted he was “not welcome” in the city. Singh described the incident as one the “most intense, threatening, insulting” experiences in his political career.
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