Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not address the prospect of President Donald Trump using military intervention in response to growing protests across the U.S. at his daily press briefing on Tuesday. Instead, he said that Canadians must recognize there is systemic racism in their own country.
Mr. Trudeau took a long pause before answering a reporter’s question about Mr. Trump’s call for military action against protesters, and protesters being teargassed. He was also asked what message it sends if he does not want to comment.
“We all watch in horror and consternation what’s going on in the United States,” Mr. Trudeau said, about 20 seconds later, outside his home in Ottawa.
Mr. Trudeau said it is a time to pull people together, to listen and to learn what injustices have continued despite progress over years and decades. But rather than commenting further on Mr. Trump’s response to protests across the U.S., Mr. Trudeau suggested Canadians recognize racism in Canada.
“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."
"There is systemic discrimination in Canada which means our systems treat Canadians of colour, Canadians who are racialized, differently than they do others. It is something that many of us don’t see but it is something that is a lived reality for racialized Canadians,” said Mr. Trudeau.
Mr. Trump threatened on Monday afternoon to call in the military unless state governors act to quell demonstrations, sometimes violent, that have engulfed much of the country, a warning that came as protesters surrounded the White House amid escalating unrest over the death of Mr. Floyd.
As Mr. Trump spoke, the National Guard fired tear gas at a peaceful crowd of protesters to clear the way for the President to hold a subsequent photo-op. The military police used batons and shields to beat back protesters, while a line of mounted officers advanced. They opened a path for Mr. Trump to St. John’s Episcopal Church, two blocks from the White House, where the President posed for pictures with a Bible in his right hand. St. John’s had been damaged by the previous night’s demonstrations and was boarded up.
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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is calling on the federal government to start collecting race-based data in order to make policy changes that will start to turn the tide on what the United Nations has called the “deplorable” treatment of African Canadians.
Parliamentarians and human-rights groups, including Amnesty International, are urging Canada to open its doors to people fleeing Hong Kong in the wake of Beijing’s decision to impose a national security law on the former British colony.
Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) writes this time, the mayhem and chaos in the U.S. feels different: “I’ve watched violent protests erupt in the United States most of my life. The first one to make an indelible impact on me was in 1967, in Detroit. For five nights, our family sat around our television set, watching as a city that we knew well was set on fire. The sight of blazes near Tiger Stadium, where my 12-year-old self saw his first professional baseball game a couple of weeks earlier, was jarring.”
Sheema Khan (The Globe and Mail) on what Muslim Canadians can teach Asian communities about the discrimination that sadly lies ahead: “On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I remember making a frantic call to Dudley Herschbach, a former chemistry professor at Harvard, to make sure no one was on the Boston-based flight that crashed into the World Trade Center. The next day, he called me back to reassure me that everyone was safe. The relief of his words, however, was punctuated by his worry: that hate was about to be unleashed against Muslims, Arabs and people who looked Middle Eastern. I didn’t quite appreciate the gravity of his words – that is, until they were borne out.”
Michael Coren (Macleans) on Donald Trump, a bible, and blasphemy: “If there is one thing we have discovered to our cost about Donald Trump it’s that he can always surprise us. Not with delight at his eloquence or empathy, or some desire for harmony and decorum, but in horror at some new presidential depth.”
Randall Denley (Ottawa Citizen) writes that Ontario’s too-cautious approach to reopening could damage businesses permanently: “Ontarians and their provincial government are facing a stark choice: either we learn to start living with COVID-19 risk or we can say goodbye to substantial chunks of the retail, tourism and hospitality sectors, along with many of the hundreds of thousands of jobs they create.”