Justin Trudeau Takes a Good, Long Pause Before Answering Question About Trump

Illustration for article titled Justin Trudeau Takes a Good, Long Pause Before Answering Question About Trump
Screenshot: ABC News/YouTube

Donald Trump has outdone himself in recent days when it comes to sowing chaos around the country, aptly summarized on Monday night when protesters were violently cleared from a D.C. park so he could march to a church and manhandle a Bible. What can anyone possibly make of that? Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau isn’t even sure where to start.

It’s not common to see professional politicians, particularly those that hold their country’s highest office, at a loss for words. But a reporter asked Trudeau to comment on Trump’s decision to call for military action against protesters—or, if he didn’t want to comment, what message that would send.


Trudeau paused for a long time, biting his lip. Cameras clicked and birds chirped, but Trudeau said nothing. At one point, it looked like he might speak, but then changed his mind. “Umm...” he whispered. I know this look. It’s the look of someone is asked for a DTR talk before they’ve had coffee. It’s the look of mental gears slowly grinding against so many thoughts that to whittle them down to a concise answer could take hours, if not days.  

He paused some more. He blinked slowly.

Finally, after 21 seconds, Trudeau settled on a response.

“We all watch in horror and 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. Then he redirected to talking about Canada, noting that the country also suffers from systemic discrimination. “We need to see that, not just as a government, and take action. We need to see that as Canadians. We need to be allies in the fight against discrimination,” he said.

It would have been far better if Trudeau had said what he was actually thinking: That Trump’s behavior is deranged, deadly and despotic. Even so, his silence spoke volumes.



Hi, Lauren. Respectfully, I disagree. While he could have spoken out to condemn Trump (which would have been excellent) that was still a very good answer. Part of being anti-racist is to come to terms with one’s own implicit and internalized biases rather than deflect it onto another.

While racism in the United States is endemic, systemic, and intertwined with every facet of our government and economy (full stop), too many countries (in my experience) are all too happy to project all prejudices and biases onto the United States while neglecting their own. They might use this moment to self-reflect, too.

While your average French person decries the United States’ racism, ask him or her about the treatment of North Africans in France, and s/he will say: That’s totally different. You don’t understand the complexities of that situation.

Same for the Germans towards the Turks.

Same for the Hungarians towards the Syrians.

Same for Chinese towards the Uighurs and Tibetans.

Same for the Saudis towards the Sri Lankans.

And on and on and on.

Every country should condemn Trump and should have cut ties with the United States immediately when migrant children were savagely separated from their parents. But it doesn’t mean that thinking people aren’t required to turn their focus inward and ask what it is that they can do to promote equity, justice and freedom in their own homes.