OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, when asked about U.S. President Donald Trump possibly calling in the military to quell protests, paused for more than 20 seconds before responding that Canadians were observing events in the U.S. with horror.
“We all watch in horror and consternation what’s going on in the United States,” Trudeau said on Tuesday at a daily news briefing, after a reporter pressed him on Trump’s idea of using soldiers against protesters.
The reporter also sought comment on the tear-gassing of U.S. protesters on Monday “to make way for a presidential photo op.”
“It is a time to pull people together,” Trudeau said. “It is a time to listen, to learn what injustices continue despite progress over years and decades.”
Trudeau talked about the need to fight racism in Canada, as he has been doing since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week sparked U.S. protests.
When a reporter asked for further comment on Trump’s words and actions, Trudeau said: “My job as a Canadian prime minister is to stand up for Canadians.”
Trudeau has long spoken about the need to end racism, but his re-election campaign was almost derailed last September after pictures of him in blackface from years earlier emerged.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, a former reporter, separately defended the work of American journalists who have been targeted by both police and protesters.
On Saturday in Minneapolis, Reuters journalist Julio-Cesar Chavez and Reuters security adviser Rodney Seward were struck and injured by rubber bullets.
“Journalists are not the enemies of the people; journalists serve the people,” she said at a news conference.
Trump has frequently attacked the media in the past, including tweeting in April last year that the press is “truly the enemy of the people.”
Reporting by Steve Scherer and Kelsey Johnson; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Bernadette Baum