OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling out U.S. President Donald Trump over the politically-motivated rioting that took place in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, saying the outgoing president “incited” the rioters.

“What we witnessed was an assault on democracy by violent rioters, incited by the current president and other politicians,” Trudeau said off the top of his national address on Friday.

Trudeau said that “as shocking, deeply disturbing, and frankly saddening as that event remains,” he was pleased to see that ultimately democracy was upheld in that country.

The pro-Trump extremists, who were gathered to protest the certification of President-Elect Joe Biden’s electoral college victory, rushed security and breached the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.. Some of the rioters carried confederate flags, and participants in the mob have been linked to extremist and far-right hate groups. Five people have died as a result of the chaos. It’s prompted national security and diplomatic experts to voice concerns about the same kind of discourse feeding its way into Canadian society.

Asked if he had any concerns about damaging the Canada-U.S. relationship by calling him and his base of supporters out like this—despite Trump only being in office for less than two more weeks—Trudeau said no, because he felt it was necessary to address that words and choices made by people in power have consequences. 

Trudeau said he looks forward to working with Biden, after an “unpredictable” and often challenging relationship with the Trump administration. 


Trudeau spoke with the premiers about the actions of the extremists in the U.S. on Thursday night, and said he’s spent time reflecting on the state of Canadian democracy. He said that it’s been an accomplishment of politicians on both sides of the aisle to maintain a political system that includes seeing the losing side in elections concede, and to have parties work together in Parliament and in provincial legislatures, where debate on a “shared acceptance of the facts” occurs. 

“Canadians expect their political leaders to protect our precious democracy by how we conduct ourselves. We have seen this manifest in unanimous consent in our Parliament for our main COVID-fighting measures, at a time when the government holds a minority of seats,” Trudeau said, adding that he thinks this collaboration is possible because it’s what the Canadian public expects. 

“Canadian democracy didn’t happen by accident and won’t continue without work. We must always work to secure our democracy, and not give comfort to those who promote things that are not true or give space for hatred or extremism,” said the prime minister.  

Asked by reporters how concerned he is about the kind of extremist discourse becoming more prominent in Canadian politics, Trudeau said Canada has already not been immune to the kind of rhetoric espoused by Trump supporters.

“We will continue to be extremely vigilant, to remember that the choices we make as leaders, as politicians, have consequences. What we choose to say, what we choose not to say, how we choose to say it, does have an impact on Canadians and encourages people to do some things, discourages them to do others. We need to be more responsible, all of us, in how we approach civil society and community engagement. And that's something that I think we are all rededicated to after seeing what can happen in the United States and elsewhere,” Trudeau said.