Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today this week’s attack on Capitol Hill was a “shocking” event that was “incited” by President Donald Trump.
“What we witnessed was an assault on democracy by violent rioters, incited by the current president and other politicians,” he said during an address outside his residence at Rideau Cottage.
“As shocking, deeply disturbing, and frankly saddening as that event remains, we have also seen this week that democracy is resilient in America, our closest ally and neighbour. Violence has no place in our societies, and extremists will not succeed in overruling the will of the people.”
Trudeau said the words used by political leaders have a direct impact on individuals’ behaviour and institutions, adding that everyone heard what the president said before the “horrific” events unfolded.
During a rally in Washington on Wednesday, Trump encouraged thousands of supporters to march to the Capitol to protest the pending certification of the electoral college vote.
“We will stop the steal,” he told the crowd.
A mob of rioters then invaded the Capitol building, prompting members of Congress and staffers to hide for their own safety.
Trump won’t retract claims of rigged election
After expressions of outrage by Democrats and many Republicans, and as calls to remove him from office mounted, Trump finally denounced Wednesday’s violence that left five people dead, including a police officer.
In a video released late Thursday, he called the attack “heinous” and promised a smooth and orderly transition of power later this month. He did not, however, take back his claim that the election was fraudulent.
Trudeau said the events in the U.S. are a reminder that democracy is not “automatic” and that no one should take it for granted in this country.
“We know that, even as we watch with extreme concern everything unfolding in the United States over these past few days … we are not immune to that in Canada,” he said.
‘The choices we make … have consequences’
“We have a responsibility as Canadians to continue to lead with respect, to engage substantially with different points of view and to never resort to violence as a way of impacting public discourse. That is something that Canadians have recommitted to across the country over these past days and we will continue to be extremely vigilant to remember that the choices we make as leaders, as politicians, have consequences.”
The events in the U.S. have raised questions about the potential threat posed by far-right groups in Canada, such as the Proud Boys.
Mary-Liz Power, spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, did not say if the Proud Boys could be added to Canada’s list of terrorist entities.
“We strongly denounce organizations, such as the Proud Boys, who advance misogynistic, white supremacist beliefs and glorify violence. Intolerance and hate have no place in our society,” she said in a media statement.
Government tracking evolving security threats
“Our greatest responsibility is keeping Canadians safe. To fulfil that responsibility, our government and agencies must keep pace with evolving threats and global trends, such as white supremacy.”
Power noted that two white supremacist and ideologically motivated violent extremist groups — Blood & Honour and Combat 18 — were added to Canada’s list of terrorist entities for the first time in 2019.
“The listing demonstrates that our security agencies are alert to evolving threats and will not hesitate to take necessary action. The listing process is always ongoing and when an organization has been found to meet the Criminal Code threshold, they will be added,” she said.
Other world leaders also have called out Trump for provoking this week’s violence.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the outgoing president “stoked uncertainties” about the election outcome, creating an atmosphere that made the siege possible.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Trump “encouraged” people to storm the Capitol and said his continued efforts to cast doubt on a free and fair election were “completely wrong.”