Christmas Is ‘Not Racist,’ Trudeau Says After Rights Commission Warns Holiday Linked to ‘Religious Discrimination’

The PM was responding to Bloc Leader Yves-François Blanchet who asked if he thinks Christmas is ‘racist’ as claimed in the commission’s report.
Christmas Is ‘Not Racist,’ Trudeau Says After Rights Commission Warns Holiday Linked to ‘Religious Discrimination’
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Oct. 4, 2023. (The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)
Noé Chartier

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has dismissed the idea that Christmas could be “racist” following a report from a federal human rights watchdog that said the holiday is an example of “religious discrimination.”

“I’m very pleased to stand up and try to answer a totally ridiculous question. Obviously, Christmas is not racist,” Mr. Trudeau said during question period in the House of Commons on Nov. 29.

“This is a country of diversity, a country that celebrates not just our personal individual beliefs, but we share and celebrate the events of our neighbours too. That’s what makes this country so rich.”

Mr. Trudeau was answering a question from Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, who raised a recent discussion paper by the Canadian Human Rights Commission on the issue of religious intolerance.

Mr. Blanchet said that according to the commission, “celebrating Christmas with trees, family, music, and gifts, that’s systemic racism.”

“I wonder whether Santa Claus is racist. I wonder whether snow has become racist. Mr. Speaker, according to the prime minister, is Christmas racist?”

The Oct. 23 paper from the commission says that discrimination against religious minorities stems from Canada’s colonial history.

“This history manifests itself in present-day systemic religious discrimination,” it says, for which statutory holidays like Christmas and Easter are an “obvious example.”

“Canada’s history with religious intolerance is deeply rooted in our identity as a settler colonial state,” says the commission.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission’s paper contains language from different forms of post-modern critical theories, such as critical race theory (CRT), and draws directly from one of its architects, Kimberlé Crenshaw.

CRT asserts that society is governed by systems that uphold white supremacy, which can be countered by implementing discrimination against white people. The ideology is found throughout the federal public service and is executed through diversity, equity, and inclusion frameworks.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre also chimed in on the matter, saying he would “be the first of the season to wish everybody a Merry Christmas.”

“Unfortunately, after eight years, this prime minister promises nothing but a carbon tax lump of coal for Canadians,” he said. “Will he get off the backs of Canadians so that they can enjoy beautiful gifts, maybe even a turkey, and a warm meal around the Christmas table this season?”

Mr. Trudeau said the “climate denialism” of the Conservatives is putting future white Christmases in jeopardy. “That’s why on this side of the House, we stand for Christmas,” he said.

Quebec Motion

Mr. Blanchet raised the issue in the House of Commons on the same day Quebec’s legislature passed a unanimous motion defending Christmas and condemning the commission’s stance.

The motion rejects “any polarization around unifying events which have been part of Quebec’s heritage for many generations.”

Quebec Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette said people in Quebec would not apologize for celebrating Christmas.

Quebec Premier François Legault has pushed back in recent years against the concept that “systemic racism” plagues society.

The Canadian Press contributed to this report.