Justin Trudeau hesitates for 20 seconds before answering question on Trump's handling of protests

'You’ve been reluctant to comment on the words and actions of the US president', journalist says

Louise Hall
Wednesday 03 June 2020 00:15
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Justin Trudeau pauses for 20 seconds before answering question on Trump vow to crush protests

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has drawn significant attention to himself after he hesitated for 20 seconds when questioned about Donald Trump’s handling of George Floyd protesters.

At a press conference on Tuesday morning, Mr Trudeau was asked for his opinion on Mr Trump’s militant handling of protests across the US.

“You’ve been reluctant to comment on the words and actions of the US president”, a journalist states in footage of the live conference.

The reporter questioned what Mr Trudeau thinks of Mr Trump's announcement that he will deploy the US military against protesters and his use of tear gas to disperse crowds.

“If you don’t want to comment what message do you think you’re sending,” he added.

The press conference was then met with a painful 20 seconds of silence as Mr Trudeau paused to answer the question.

During the pause, he appeared to consider answering, before subsequently hesitating a number of times.

When the prime minister finally answered he refrained from referencing the president directly and refocused his answer to more general statements on racism and inequalities occurring in Canada.

“We all watch in horror and consternation what’s 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 what injustices continue despite progress over years and decades,” he added.

“It is a time for us as Canadians to recognise that we too have our challenges, that black Canadians, racialised Canadians, face discrimination as a lived reality every single day. There is systemic discrimination in Canada.”

Social media users were quick to pick up on the unusually long pause, and a clip of the press conference has gone viral on Twitter.

Some defended Mr Trudeau for considering his answer before speaking: “I frankly prefer that he took the time to think about his answer. We have enough glib politicians in the world. I'll take a thoughtful one, any day”, one user tweeted.

Others said they believed that the prime minister's delay in answering spoke louder than words.

"I think the pause was purposeful and a message in itself. He is not a speaker who needs that long to think of something appropriate to say. He can do it in his sleep. Either way, it was well done", one said.

A number of other people criticised Mr Trudeau for not speaking out against Mr Trump's actions.

The question to Mr Trudeau comes following days of national unrest in the wake of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, who died after in police custody after a Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the ground by his neck for a prolonged period of time.

Many demonstrations have remained peaceful, however a number of protests have spiralled into riots, with looting, vandalism, and violence between police and protesters.

Mr Trump announced on Monday in a press conference that he would be willing to deploy the US military to diffuse protests and riots that have erupted across the country after he said that state governors were not taking severe enough action to protect their residents.

“If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” he said.

Mr Trump was criticised for saying he would protect peaceful protesters during the briefing, while police officers deployed tear gas, rubber bullets, and flashbangs to disperse peaceful protesters at nearby Lafayette Square in Washington, DC. He is accused of doing so solely to clear a path for a photo op.

Other US officials have condemned Mr Trump's response to the nationwide protests, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who spoke out publicly on Twitter on Tuesday, calling the president's use of tear-gas against peaceful protesters in Washington "shameful".

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