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article imageOp-Ed: Trudeau at a loss for words over Trump's handling of protests

By Karen Graham     Jun 2, 2020 in Politics
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not speak for some 21 seconds when asked to comment on U.S. President Donald Trump's handling of protesters in the United States, ultimately avoiding even saying Trump’s name in his eventual response.
During a press conference on the front steps of Rideau Cottage on Tuesday, a reporter asked the Prime Minister: "You've been reluctant to comment on the words and actions of the US president. But we do have Donald Trump now calling for military action against protesters. We saw protesters tear-gassed yesterday to make way for a presidential photo op. I'd like to ask you what you think about that. And if you don't want to comment, what message do you think you're sending?"
For several seconds, the question was met by silence. Finally, Trudeau opened his mouth slightly, as if to speak - but did not utter a word for another 20 seconds, according to CTV News Canada.
After several false starts, Trudeau finally spoke, saying: "We all watch in horror and consternation what’s going on in the United States."
"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. But 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."
US President Donald Trump holds up a Bible outside of St John's Episcopal church across Lafayet...
US President Donald Trump holds up a Bible outside of St John's Episcopal church across Lafayette Park after federal police cleared out a peaceful demonstration
Brendan Smialowski, AFP
At no time did Trudeau utter President Trump's name - not even once, or criticize him for his actions. Trudeau was asked a second time why he did not want to address Trump's actions on Monday, but CBC Canada reports that Trudeau said he would rather focus his attention on Canadians.
"Canadians need a government that will be there for them, that will support them and that will move us forward in the right direction, and I will do that," Trudeau said.
The prime minister wasn't the only government official to be pressed for their opinion on Trump's antics on Monday. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was pressed on the issue during a press conference Tuesday, she too refused to directly mention Trump in her response.
"As a Canadian politician, as a Canadian leader, 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 a problem here in Canada, and it is our job today to listen to Canadians, to listen to black Canadians, and it’s time for us to act," she said.
On Monday, Trudeau had a message for young Black Canadians: "I hear you when you say that you are anxious and angry. When you say that this brings back painful experiences of racism that you've faced. I want you to know that I am listening, and that your government will always stand with you," Trudeau said.
"Together, we will keep taking meaningful action to fight racism and discrimination in every form. The status quo – where people face violence because of the color of their skin – is unacceptable."
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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