You may have spotted Justin Trudeau among the crowds at Ottawa's anti-racism protest on Friday, June 5. In fact, during Justin Trudeau's protest appearance, he even took a knee. Protests and vigils of this kind have been emerging around the world since George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis. While countless people have taken to the streets in Canada, concerns have arisen about the safety of doing so during the COVID-19 pandemic. During Trudeau's public briefing on Monday, June 8, he spoke to those concerns.
When a member of the media asked Trudeau about his decision to attend Ottawa's protest during COVID-19, the prime minister spoke to both the public health crisis and the anti-racist outcries that are taking place simultaneously.
He called the two situations "very important, competing interests," which he believes Canadians are trying to balance.
In regards to COVID-19, he said he's open to getting tested, though he said he's showing no symptoms, even after his wife had been diagnosed with the disease early on in the pandemic.
He then spoke about the rally which he attended. "It was important for me to attend," he began. "To listen, to be able to hear people, and to be able to understand and to share with people how important it was to act on it."
He said he followed social distancing measures, wore a mask, and kept as much distance as possible.
"Of course, we must try to follow public health recommendations, that’s what I tried to do," he explained.
"But I also felt it was very important that the prime minister be there to listen and hear the voices of thousands of Canadians who want us to act quickly to counter systemic discrimination that exists in this country. That is the choice that I made and I believe it was the right choice," said Trudeau.
The protests have brought thousands of Canadians to the streets in several metropolitan cities as well as in rural areas.
In Toronto, an attendee was arrested for arriving in blackface.
While swarms of protestors take to the streets, public health orders are still in effect and protest organizers are even advising attendees to get tested for COVID-19 after the fact.