OTTAWA – Some opposition party leaders are slamming the prime minister for not calling out U.S. President Donald Trump over his actions and comments amid ongoing anti-racism protests.
Justin Trudeau is under fire for not mentioning the U.S. president by name when asked about his comments describing protesters as domestic terrorists and having police use tear gas on demonstrators to clear way for a photo-op.
Instead, Trudeau left more than 20 seconds of silence before saying Canadians are watching in horror what is happening in the U.S., and turning focus to racism on this side of the border. He never mentioned Trump by name.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says the prime minister’s silence is deafening. He adds Trudeau is being a hypocrite for saying we should call out racism and acts of injustice, but then not denouncing comments from the U.S. commander in chief.
“Because that’s what’s happened for too long. People have been silent in the face of racism, in the face of hate, and it is wrong to be silent. We have to stand up, especially those in positions of power, people who have a platform. The prime minister of Canada has to call out the hatred and racism happening just south of the border.”
The New Democrat likened the silence to the times he faced racism and bullying as a child.
“And the kids that said nothing didn’t help me in any way. The silence didn’t stop the blows that I felt, the silence didn’t stop the painful words. It is important that people are not passive bystanders,” Singh adds. “When people are being killed simply for expressing their dissent, they’re protesting because they’re frustrated and angry, you have to actually speak up. You can’t be a passive bystander.”
Meanwhile, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet says Trudeau lacks courage for not speaking out.
Blanchet believes silence is the wrong approach for a prime minister.
“I believe that the responsible thing to do was not to calculate in his mind 20 seconds of carefully meditated silence, strategic silence, and instead say what he didn’t have the courage to say,” he says. “The president of the United States, once again, is throwing oil on a dangerous fire.”
While others have been critical of Trudeau for his response, the Green Party’s Elizabeth May says this isn’t a normal president, and understands why the government would be hesitant to speak out.
“I want to give the prime minister and deputy prime minister the space to navigate how they deal with the Trump White House,” she says, adding that right now, the U.S. is not a safe country.
The prime minister has promised concrete action to deal with racism in Canada, however, he has not outlined what exactly those actions will be. The NDP wants to see policies on racial profiling by police, and more supports to deal with poverty and housing.