Trudeau Pauses, Avoids Naming Trump When Asked About Protests

The Canadian Prime Minister paused for 21 seconds after being asked to comment on Trump's threat to use military force against protesters.

justin trudeau

Image via Getty/Dave Chan/AFP

justin trudeau

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday morning, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a long, 21-second pause when asked to comment on U.S. President Donald Trump's threat to use military force against protesters demonstrating against racial injustice.

After much visible hesitation, Trudeau avoided condemning Trump directly while addressing "systemic discrimination" in Canada. 

"We all watch in horror and consternation at what is going on in the United States," he said. "It is a time to pull people together, but it is a time to listen. It is a time to learn, when injustices continue despite progress over years and decades."

.@JustinTrudeau takes a long pause after being asked to comment on President Trump’s behaviour towards protests in the U.S.

“We all watch in horror & consternation what's going on in the United States. It is a time to pull people together, but it is a time to listen,” he said.

— Power & Politics (@PnPCBC) June 2, 2020

On Monday, Trump vowed to deploy the U.S. military in order to deal with the ongoing riots and demonstrations across the country. He warned that if cities or states don't take the actions necessary to control protesters, then the military would intervene to "quickly solve the problem for them."

When prompted again to explain why he didn't want to directly address Trump's actions, Trudeau said his job as prime minister is to focus 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.

Trudeau's had a history of seeming cautiously reticent to outrightly criticize Trump—the president of Canada's largest trading partner—for his controversial remarks.

In 2017, he didn't mention Trump by name when condemning the violent white nationalist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, instead reminding Canadians that their country is not immune to racism. Trump received widespread criticism for going soft on the neo-Nazis, saying there were "some very fine people on both sides."

There was some mixed reaction on Tuesday to Trudeau's pause. Some called him out for failing to go far enough to denounce the U.S. president.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called out PM Justin Trudeau, saying he has the power to do more to address racism in Canada and that ‘people are done with pretty speeches.’

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— CTV News (@CTVNews) June 2, 2020

When will @JustinTrudeau condemn @realDonaldTrump or my skin colour isn’t important to the @liberal_party #blacklivesmattercanada

— Elektra Murphy (She/Her) 🇺🇦 🏳️‍⚧️ 🏳️‍🌈 🇧🇧 (@ElectraMurphyCa) June 2, 2020

Trudeau’s 21-second pause before answering a journalist’s question on T*ump is something straight out of a classic Canadian sketch comedy show. #TheKidsInTheHall

— Dan West (@DanyeWest82) June 2, 2020

Others commended Trudeau for being careful not to drag Canada into a war of words with Trump, saying his silence spoke volumes.

It was tough to watch but a good answer. As a leader, he's not going to give his opinion on Trump. Why even ask that? Do we really want Canada to get into a war of words with a narcissistic sociopath?

— betty dondertman (@100thwoman) June 2, 2020

21 second pause before giving a classy answer. #Trudeau #TrumpIsACunt

— Marie-Ann Detests Tories 🇺🇦 🇪🇺 🇬🇧 (@MarieAnnUK) June 2, 2020

Background, obvs: Trump is unpopular in Canada, Trudeau's voter base is a center-left coalition, & he tends to imply critique without explicitly critiquing Trump (and sending his gov't back through the Nafta/232 negotiation gauntlet). It's his brand of nudge-and-wink realpolitik.

— Josh Wingrove (@josh_wingrove) June 2, 2020

I think we all know what Trudeau is thinking during this lengthy pause. 🤣

— 🏴‍☠️ 𝕲𝖑𝖆𝖘𝖘𝕮𝖎𝖙𝖞 🏴‍☠️ (@GlassCityFC) June 2, 2020

Sometimes it's what we don't say that speaks volumes. Trudeau's silence while he searches for the words should tell you everything.

— k. t. nichols (@kaitieforreal) June 2, 2020


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