Al Sharpton calls out Trudeau's 21-second pause on Trump
TORONTO -- Civil rights activist Al Sharpton appeared to criticize Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for pausing at length earlier this week when he was asked about U.S. President Donald Trump’s handling of anti-racism protests in the United States.
Sharpton gave a eulogy Thursday at a memorial for George Floyd, the Black man who died last week after a white police officer in Minneapolis shoved his knee into Floyd’s neck.
“The time has made the moment of change in America,” Sharpton told Radio-Canada ahead of the service. “And I'm going to express that in my eulogy. And since you're from Canada, I won't have a 21-second gap before I say what I have to say.”
On Tuesday, Trudeau paused after he was asked for his thoughts on Trump's suggestion that he deploy military action against protesters across the U.S. — a call that Trump’s own defence secretary said he disagreed with.
The prime minister did not immediately respond but instead stood silently at the podium. At one point he opened his mouth but didn’t offer any words.
In total, Trudeau’s prolonged silence lasted 21 seconds.
"We all watch in horror and consternation what’s going on in the United States," Trudeau finally 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. But it is a time for us as Canadians to recognize that we too have our challenges, that Black Canadians and racialized Canadians face discrimination as a lived reality every single day.”
Other federal leaders have called on Trudeau — who apologized during last year’s federal election after images surfaced showing him dressed in blackface — to take stronger action against anti-Black racism in Canada. On Tuesday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh challenged Trudeau to use his position of power to “go beyond pretty words, and pretty speeches, and do something.”
With files from CTVNews.ca's Rachel Aiello and Rachel Gilmore