At a press conference on Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a long pause, hesitating to comment on U.S. President Donald Trump using the military to clear protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets during a photo opportunity.
Although not specifically commenting on the actions of Trump, the prime minister did make general statements about the events in the U.S. and highlighted there is also “systemic discrimination” in Canada.
“We all watch in horror and consternation what’s going on in the United States,” Trudeau said. “It is a time to pull people together but it is a time to listen, it is a time to learn what injustices continue despite progress over years and decades.”
“It is a time for us as Canadians to recognize that we too have our challenges, that black Canadians, racialized Canadians face discrimination as a lived reality every single day. There is systemic discrimination in Canada.”
Shortly after Trump’s appeared on Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke to CNN and called out Trump for his “shameful” actions.
“They used the American military to push back a peaceful protest, which everyone watched on TV, just so he could have a photo-op of walking to a church,” Cuomo said.
On Tuesday, Trudeau went on to say Canadians “need to be allies in the fight against discrimination.”
“We need to listen, we need to learn and we need to work hard...to figure out how we can be part of the solution on fixing thing,” the prime minister said. “This government has done a number of things over the past years but there is lots more to do and we will continue to do that.”
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was also asked why the Canadian government has not “more forceful” in reprimanding Trump’s approach to dealing with protesters in the U.S.
“I’d like to start by being very clear that racism exists here in Canada,” Freeland said. “Systemic discrimination is real, anti black racism is real and unconscious bias is real.”
“My focus is on Canada and it is on being very clear, within our government and with Canadians, that this is not a problem to which we are immune. It is our job today to listen to Canadians, to listen to black Canadians and it’s time for us to act.”
When asked if she and federal government have concerns about the potential “blowback” from the U.S. if their comments are too harsh, Freeland continued to comment on racism in Canada.
“What I am concerned about actually is Canadian complacency,” the deputy prime minister said. “I think that it’s really, really important for us to set our own house in order and for us to really beware of the pain that anti-black racism causes here in our own country.”
Following Trudeau’s comments, Canadians took to social media to respond to how the prime minister addressed the question about Trump’s actions.
Many believe he did not go far enough to condemn the U.S. president.
Others also called out Trudeau’s black face scandal from last year and the “hypocrisy” of him now making these statements about racism in Canada.
Some also commended the prime minister for not being particularly critical of Trump.
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