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Trudeau says U.S. president incited the 'assault on democracy' at Capitol

Last Updated Jan 8, 2021 at 11:29 am MDT

FILE - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a closing press conference on the third and final day of the Liberal cabinet retreat in Ottawa on Sept. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Justin Trudeau has delivered his strongest statement yet on what happened at the U.S. Capitol this week

Prime minister says chaos at Capitol 'was an assault on democracy by violent rioters incited by the current president'

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made his strongest statement yet on the storming of Capitol Hill earlier this week in Washington, pointing the finger of blame at President Donald Trump and his political allies.

Trudeau began his COVID-19 update on Friday by addressing the developments we saw in the U.S. capital on Wednesday, not mincing words about what happened.

“What we witnessed was an assault on democracy by violent rioters incited by the current president and other politicians,” he said, not mentioning Trump by name.

Trudeau said violence and extremists will not succeed in overruling the will of the people.

“As shocking, deeply disturbing, and, frankly, saddening as that event remains, we’ve also seen this week that democracy is resilient in America — our closest ally and neighbour,” he told reporters.

Saying that democracy takes a lot of work, the prime minister added that he spoke about this with the premiers, noting in Canada, we can’t take it for granted.

“As Canadians, I think we’ve been all reflecting on our own country,” he said, explaining that democracy “is not automatic” and that Canadians expect their elected leaders to protect democracy by how they conduct themselves.

He went on to say that they talked about “what a real accomplishment it is to maintain a political system in which the losing side gracefully concedes, and in which rival political parties, between elections, work together for the common good.”

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Trudeau’s comments on the president’s role in the violence and chaos on Wednesday are likely one of the stronger statements from world leaders yet on the developments in Washington.

Through the Trump presidency, which is set to end on Jan. 20 when Joe Biden is inaugurated, Trudeau has often tried to walk a very fine line with his criticisms of the 45th president.

In an interview with Mountain FM in Whistler, Thursday, Trudeau said he was looking forward to working with President-elect Joe Biden, who has now been confirmed by Congress.

“Yes, there’s more alignment on things that really matter to a lot of Canadians, like climate change, with the incoming president so we’ll be working on that. But my job is to make sure I’m defending Canadian interests and that’s going to remain,” he said.

When asked whether he was relieved that Biden had secured the election, the prime minister said his job is to work with the president — no matter who they are.

“Obviously the past four years have had their challenges but we’ve been able to do really big things, like secure access to our most important partner at a time of protectionism by renegotiating a good NAFTA deal,” he explained.

On Wednesday, Trudeau told NEWS 1130 that his government was keeping a close eye on what was unfolding in Washington. His comments to NEWS 1130 came moments after the angry mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building.