Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a knee during an anti-racism demonstration on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, on Friday.
Trudeau, wearing a face mask, joined other protesters kneeling for the symbolic period of 8 minutes and 46 seconds ― the amount of time a white police officer pressed his knee into the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis last week. Floyd’s killing has inspired protests worldwide.
Trudeau clapped as speakers demanded officials tackle systemic racism.
Some protesters urged Trudeau to stand up to U.S. President Donald Trump’s violent rhetoric about demonstrators, the Canadian Press reported..
On Tuesday, Trudeau ― who became embroiled in his own racism/blackface scandal in 2019 ― paused for around 20 seconds after being asked to comment on Trump’s call for military action to deal with the protests.
“We all watch in horror and consternation what’s going on in the United States,” Trudeau eventually said. “It is a time to pull people together, but it is a time to listen, to learn what injustices continue despite progress over years and decades.”
Trudeau’s taking of a knee split opinion on Twitter. Critics accused him of opportunism. Canada’s Families Minister Ahmed Hussen, who is Somali Canadian, accompanied Trudeau to the rally. He described the gesture as “powerful.”
Trudeau on Monday acknowledged that anti-Black racism and systemic discrimination is a “real aspect” of Canadian life.