Justin Trudeau, when asked about US President Donald Trump threatening to use the military to quell protests against police murder of George Floyd, paused for more than 20 seconds before responding that Canadians were watching the events in the United States with horror.
"We are all watching in horror and dismay at what is going on in the United States," Canadian Prime Minister said Tuesday in a daily media availability after a reporter pressed him on Trump's idea of using soldiers against protesters.
The reporter also asked for comments on the tear gas from US protesters on Monday "to make way for a presidential photo shoot".
"This is the time to bring people together," said Trudeau. "This is the time to listen, to learn what injustices persist despite progress over the years and decades."
Trudeau spoke about the need to fight racism Canada, something he has been talking about since Floyd's murder in Minneapolis last week sparked American protests.
When a reporter asked for additional comments on Trump's words and actions, Trudeau said, "My job as Canadian Prime Minister is to stand up for Canadians."
Trudeau has long spoken of the need to end racism, but his re-election campaign nearly derailed in September of last year after historic black photos of him emerged.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, a former journalist, has separately defended the work of American journalists who have been targeted by police and protesters. “Journalists are not the enemies of the people; journalists serve the people, "she said at a press conference.
Reuters reporter Julio-Cesar Chavez and Reuters safety advisor Rodney Seward were hit and injured by rubber bullets in Minneapolis on Saturday.
Trump has frequently attacked the media in the past, calling them "the enemy of the people."