Asked to comment on President Donald Trump’s threat to use military force against protesters and the attacks on demonstrators in Washington to clear a path for a presidential photo op, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday paused for more than 20 seconds, then offered a response that did not directly criticize the U.S. leader’s handling of the unrest.
“We all watch in horror and consternation [at] what’s going on in the United States,” Trudeau told reporters after the long pause. “It is a time to pull people together. . . . It is a time for us as Canadians to recognize that we, too, have our challenges, that black Canadians and racialized Canadians face discrimination as a lived reality every single day.”
Asked again why he appeared reluctant to comment directly on the “words and actions” of the U.S. president, Trudeau said his job as prime minister is to stand up for Canadians.
The video of the lengthy pause quickly went viral. But the comments do not mark a significant departure for Trudeau, who has twice weighed in on the unrest happening south of the border. In the past week, he said that Canadians were watching in “shock and horror.” On Monday, he avoided commenting when asked whether President Trump’s rhetoric risked inflaming tensions.
Polls show Trump is deeply unpopular in Canada, a long-standing U.S. ally on which he has imposed tariffs. Trudeau, who has at times cast himself as a liberal foil to Trump, has often shied away from commenting directly on political and social issues in the United States or has been careful in how he does so, rarely mentioning the president by name.
Special To The Washington Post · Amanda Coletta