By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA) – Canadian political leaders scolded Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday for failing to condemn US President Donald Trump’s “reprehensible” actions as cities across America protested the death of an unarmed black man.
Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet went so far as to say Trudeau “needs a spine.” The furor arose after the prime minister paused for 21 seconds Tuesday before answering a question about what he thought about Trump’s decision to use military force against protesters who are demonstrating the death of George Floyd, who was killed while being arrested by a white police officer in the US state of Minnesota.
Riots and marches in major American cities erupted after video of Floyd’s murder went viral.
When Trudeau did speak, he did not criticize Trump, but sidestepped the question and talked about social “injustices” and racism in Canada.
Blanchet said rather than go into Canada’s problems with racism, Trudeau should have accused “Donald Trump of being incendiary and provoking serious social tensions. Mr. Trudeau is much more inclined to accuse us collectively of all the vices.”
The Minneapolis police department fired four officers who were at the scene of Floyd’s death, but when protests began, officials charged now-former officer Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for minutes, with second-degree murder.
The other three officers who stood by and watched were also charged Wednesday, according to reports.
Trump’s response to the protests was to governors to call in the National Guard and he condemned them as “weak” in the face of demonstrations which in some cases turned violent, but many were peaceful.
“He (Trudeau) didn’t have the courage to say the president of the United States is once again throwing oil on a dangerous fire against people, most of them in a peaceful fashion, who express sadness, indignation sorrow, anger, all of that being entirely legitimate,” Blanchet said.
Green Party leader Elizabeth May said she understood Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland’s dilemma in dealing with the mercurial and vengeful Trump, but there comes a time when avoidance is not an option.
“I want to give the prime minister and the deputy prime minister the space to navigate how they deal with the Trump White House,” May said. “But, as an individual, as the parliamentary leader for the Green Party, I can’t stand by … I think those of us in other countries should speak out.”