Left-wing party leaders in Canada have condemned President Trump’s response to protests over the death of George Floyd, with one proposing that Canada accept asylum seekers attempting to enter the country from the U.S.
Trump’s response has included threatening to use the military to quell violence and tear gassing protesters in front of the White House.
Asked about his reaction to the gassing of protesters, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stayed silent for 20 seconds before saying “we all watch in horror and consternation what’s going on in the United States,” without mentioning Trump and then focused his speech on racism in Canada.
But Jagmeet Singh, leader of the left-wing New Democratic Party, called Trump’s actions “reprehensible” and said Trudeau “has to call out the hatred and racism happening just south of the border,” while Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said Trudeau needs to “grow a spine.”
Elizabeth May, leader of Canada’s Green Party, took it one step further, calling on Canada to accept qualified asylum seekers from other countries coming to Canada via the U.S., which she said is “no longer safe” for them to seek asylum in.
“It’s clear that if you’re Muslim, if you’re Black, if you’re Latina, if you’re Indigenous, the United States is not a safe country,” May said.
May also said Trump has “urged violence” and “in coded language has been giving oxygen, for years now, to white supremacists.”
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Under the terms of a 2004 treaty, Canada deemed the U.S. a “safe” asylum for refugees and agreed not to take in refugees who land in the U.S. first. That treaty has long drawn scrutiny from the left and from refugee-advocates, including the Green Party, who consider the U.S. insufficiently committed to human rights. In 2017, Canada reviewed the agreement after Trump banned immigration from several Muslim-majority countries. Trudeau also faced fierce calls to suspend the treaty in 2018 when the Trump administration began separating families at the U.S.-Mexico Border. In March, Trudeau closed the border entirely, banning non-essential U.S. visitors in Canada and announcing that Canada would send back asylum seekers who attempt to cross the U.S.-Canada border to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Trump’s presidency has coincided with a deterioration of the United States’ standing in the world community. A Pew Research poll in 2018 found that most other countries’ favorability of the US dropped precipitously between the end of Obama’s presidency and the beginning of Trump’s. In Canada, America’s favorability dropped by 26 points, from 65% to just 39%. Canada’s views of Trump specifically are even worse, with just 28% of Canadians saying they have confidence in him to “do the right thing regarding world affairs” in a Pew poll in January.
“This is a very dangerous situation. And I do think those of us in other countries should speak out,” May said of Trump’s protest response.