On Tuesday afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the issue of anti-black racism in Canada. He acknowledged that he has made “serious mistakes” in the past, and that racism is “everywhere in Canada, every single day.” His comments come after several days of global unrest, as protests, rallies and marches have been taking place.
After touching upon the issue of racism in Canada in several of his daily COVID-19 announcements, the prime minister has spoken up in the House of Commons.
On June 2, Trudeau began his statement by saying, “I rise today to address what so many people of colour live with every day.”
He acknowledged “horrific reports of police violence against black men and women south of the border,” before going on to note that racism was not only an issue “next door.”
“We are part of it … Anti-black racism is happening here. Everywhere in Canada. Every single day,” he said.
Trudeau went on to address his own shortcomings when it comes to being an ally, noting, “I have made serious mistakes in the past, mistakes which I deeply regret and continue to learn from.”
“I’m not perfect, but not being perfect is not a free pass to not do the right thing,” he added.
Anti-Black racism exists in Canada and we must do all that we can to end it for good. So as leaders and as allies,… https://t.co/OOCfk1Wwjx— Justin Trudeau (@Justin Trudeau) 1591150260.0
Last year, several old photos resurfaced of the PM wearing blackface. He has never confirmed how many times he had painted his face, but described the occasions as “situations I regret deeply.”
On Tuesday, he said, “I know that for so many people listening right now, the last thing you want to hear is another speech on racism from a white politician.”
He added that the purpose of the speech was to let people know that the government is listening.
“We hear your calls for justice, equality and accountability.”
Trudeau’s speech follows a week of protests both within Canada and across the globe, following the death of George Floyd in the U.S.
Floyd died after a police officer knelt on his neck. He was captured on video saying, “I can’t breathe.”
In honour of Floyd, rallies have been taking place as supporters stand up against police brutality.
During his daily COVID-19 address, Trudeau was asked his opinion on the U.S. President calling for military action against protesters.
He was silent for 21 seconds before answering.