FILE PHOTO: Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a meeting of the special committee on the COVID-19 outbreak in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada May 20, 2020. REUTERS/Blair Gable/File Photo
OTTAWA (Reuters) – Many Canadians are watching the riots in parts of the United States with shock and horror but Canada also has problems with racism, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday.
Minneapolis has been rocked by a third night of violent protests over the death of an unarmed black man after a white police officer knelt on his neck as he lay on the ground following arrest.
“Many Canadians of diverse backgrounds are watching, like all Canadians are, the news out of the United States with shock and with horror,” Trudeau said in unprompted remarks at the end of a daily briefing.
“Anti-black racism – racism – is real. It’s in the United States but it’s also in Canada and we know people are facing systemic discrimination, unconscious bias and anti-black racism every single day,” he told reporters. “We have work to do as well in Canada.”
Trudeau’s remarks were a highly unusual commentary on American domestic affairs. Canadian prime ministers have in general refrained from discussing events in what is Canada’s main ally and largest trading partner.
Trudeau has long spoken about the need to end racism but last September his campaign for reelection was almost derailed after pictures of him in blackface emerged.
Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Richard Chang