Politics

Trudeau says Canadians 'deeply disturbed' by violence in Washington D.C.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today that Canadians are "deeply disturbed and saddened" by the violent actions of Trump supporters in Washington D.C. and that democracy in the United States "must be upheld."

Trump posts video restating fraud claims, telling supporters to go home

Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. (Julio Cortez/The Associated Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today that Canadians are "deeply disturbed and saddened" by the violent actions of Trump supporters in Washington D.C. and that democracy in the United States "must be upheld."

"Violence will never succeed in overruling the will of the people. Democracy in the U.S. must be upheld — and it will be," Trudeau said in a social media post this evening.

Earlier tonight, Trudeau told radio listeners tuning in to News 1130 in Vancouver that he was concerned by the violence erupting in Washington D.C. and was watching the "situation minute by minute as it unfolds."

"I think the American democratic institutions are strong and hopefully everything will return to normal shortly. We're going to continue to do what we need to do to make sure that Canadians are well served in our relationship with the United States, regardless of how things unfold."

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne also reacted to the images from Washington by saying that "Canada is deeply shocked ..."

"The peaceful transition of power is fundamental to democracy — it must continue and it will. We are following developments closely and our thoughts are with the American people,"  Champagne said on Twitter. 

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole also spoke out against the violence, condemning the actions of pro-Trump protesters as an assault on democracy.  

"The storming of the Capitol Building is an astonishing assault on freedom and democracy. I am deeply saddened to see chaos grip our greatest ally today," he said in a social media post.

The protest staged by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump started off peacefully but soon saw violent clashes with police.

Trump urged his supporters to come to Washington to protest Congress's formal approval of president-elect Joe Biden's win in the general election — a process that was underway when the protests began.

Several Republican lawmakers have backed Trump's calls, despite the absence of any evidence of fraud or wrongdoing in the election.

Both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives abruptly suspended proceedings as dozens of people breached security perimeters at the Capitol. Lawmakers inside the House chamber were told to put on gas masks as tear gas was fired in the rotunda.

Ford says violence 'disgraceful'

Images emerged of security officials holding some protesters at gunpoint, barricading doors to the House chamber and guarding it from inside with pistols drawn.

Canada's ambassador to the United States said all embassy staff in Washington D.C. are "safe and accounted for." 

"We call for calm during this time. Canadians in DC should follow the advice of local authorities," said Kirsten Hillman in a social media post.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh described the images coming out of Washington D.C. "frightening" and blamed Trump's actions for the unrest. 

"The horror unfolding in Washington is frightening and it was incited by Donald Trump. He can end it now, but refuses to. Democracy must not be intimidated. The violence must end," he said on Twitter.

B.C. NDP MP Alistair MacGregor even took to Twitter to urge U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence to use the 25th amendment to remove Trump from power.

The amendment allows the removal of a sitting president if he is unable to do his job. To invoke it, a review body appointed by cabinet — or a majority of the cabinet — has to declare in writing that the president is unfit for office. Once declared unfit, the president can argue his case. Congress then takes a vote and if two-thirds of both houses of Congress agree that the president is unfit, the vice president becomes president.

Tweeting in French, Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-François Blanchet said the situation was provoked by Trump's actions and those who follow him.

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul issued a statement saying the events in D.C. "underscore the importance of respect for the rule of law and the peaceful transfer of power — principles upon which any healthy democracy depends."

Ontario Premier Doug Ford issuing a statement calling the situation in Washington "absolutely disgraceful."

"The peaceful transfer of power is crucial to any democracy and I'm incredibly disappointed with what we are witnessing in the United States today," Ford said. 

Quebec Premier François Legault tweeted in English that while he was watching the events in D.C. closely, he believes that the U.S. is a "great country" that "will rebound as it has always done in its history."

Trump asks protesters to leave, repeats fraud claims

After repeated calls for Trump to make a public statement to tell his supporters to leave the Capitol, Trump posted a video statement to his Twitter account repeating his claims that the election had been stolen and asking his supporters to go home.

"I know you're hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side, but you have to go home now, we have to have peace," Trump said in the video.

Trump's video was removed from both Facebook and Twitter for breaching its policies. Facebook's vice president of integrity, Guy Rose, said the video was removed "because on balance we believe it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence."

Twitter said Trump's account has been locked for 12 hours and that if his offending tweets are not removed, the account will remain locked. 

With files from the Associated Press

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