‘We can’t pretend racism doesn’t exist here:’ Trudeau, Opposition leaders address U.S. protests and issues of racism

'We can't pretend racism doesn't exist here:' Trudeau, Opposition leaders address U.S. protests and issues of racism

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with the leaders of the Opposition, have spoken out against the situation unfolding south of the border and the issues of racism that are currently being faced by Canadians.

During a routine press conference on Monday, Prime Minister Trudeau opened by bringing attention to the violent protests that have been occurring unabated over the past several days.

“For far too many Canadians, the images and stories coming out of the U.S. are all too familiar,” the prime minister said. “As a country, we can’t pretend racism doesn’t exist here. Anti-Black racism is real. Unconscious bias is real. And systemic discrimination is real.”

The violent, racially-charged protests in the U.S. were triggered last week when a Minnesota police officer killed an unarmed black man, George Floyd, by kneeling on his neck.

Over the weekend, multiple peaceful protests were held across Canada to show solidarity against anti-Black racism as a result of the incident that took place in America. Trudeau felt that these Canadian protests show Canada is sending a message.

“By standing together and denouncing the few who would try to derail these demonstrations, Canadians are sending the message that they will never tolerate injustice,” said Trudeau.

Trudeau also said all levels of government need to come together to address issues of racism, so no one has to experience discrimination in our country.

As a result of the ongoing demonstrations south of the border, Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is proposing a slew of measures including better data on carding and more training for police officers to combat systemic racism in Canada.

“There needs to really clear training around de-escalation,” said Singh. “We see far too many incidences where a tense situation escalates…and a life is taken.”

An emotional Singh, who has previously spoken of his own experiences dealing with racism as a practising Sikh, says he is angry over Floyd’s killing, but that Canada has its own problems that need to be addressed.

“This is not just an American issue, here in Canada we face anti-Black racism as well. Black people have died at the hands of police,” said Singh. “We have our own issues here in Canada and we can’t shy away from the anti-Black racism that exists.”

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer also spoke this morning about the protests in the U.S., saying he was heartbroken by Floyd’s killing and that no one should have to live in fear of the police.

Scheer says all levels of government have much more to do when it comes to addressing racism in Canada.

The protests in the U.S. have proven extremely polarizing, with those on the left and right of the political spectrum attacking each other on social media and elsewhere.

Graham CoxGraham Cox

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