Trudeau’s daily update: ’We can’t pretend that racism doesn’t exist’ in Canada (Full transcript)

In his June 1 briefing to Canadians from his home in Ottawa, the PM told young Black Canadians that he is ’listening and that your government will always stand with you.’ He also announced funding for cities.
Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference at Rideau Cottage during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Monday, June 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a daily update on the coronavirus crisis each day in front of his home in Ottawa. Here are his English-language remarks for June 1, 2020, which also addressed unrest south of the border.

I want to start by addressing the situation that’s unfolding south of the border, which is also having an impact here at home. For far too many Canadians, the images and stories coming out of the U.S. are all too familiar. As a country, we can’t pretend that racism doesn’t exist here. Anti-black racism is real, unconscious bias is real, and systemic discrimination is real and they happen here in Canada.

Over the weekend, we saw thousands of people gather across the country to join peaceful protests against anti-black racism. By standing together and denouncing the few who would try to derail these demonstrations, Canadians are sending the message that they will never tolerate injustice.

To young black Canadians, I hear you when you say you are anxious and angry; when you say that this brings back painful experiences of racism that you’ve faced. I want you to know that I’m listening and that your government will always stand with you. Together, we will keep taking meaningful action to fight racism and discrimination in every form. The status quo where people face violence because of the colour of their skin is unacceptable. No parent should have to once again explain to their kids that they or their friends might face racism. It is time—it is past time—for this to change.

As leaders and allies, we must do the hard work needed to listen and learn. We must ensure that everyone is safe and respected. That includes journalists who need to be able to do their work on the front lines to expose the truth and tell the stories we need to hear. And we must, as Canadians, always keep working together to build a fairer, better, more equitable country for all.

It has been a very difficult spring for many people, and although the path forward won’t be easy, things will get better. Over the last month, we’ve started to see promising signs that the curve is flattening in Canada. Now, the situation remains very serious, but the more we can control the spread of the virus, the more we can begin restarting. In many parts of the country, this is already happening. In others where the situation remains more uncertain, steps are being taken more slowly. Every province and territory will have its own approach, but as we move forward with restarting the economy, we must keep working together.

On Thursday, as part of our weekly call, I spoke to the premiers about collaboration on the path ahead. I’m working closely with them, just like with mayors and other leaders on what this approach should include because there are a whole range of issues that will require us to take action together. As I’ve said before, to keep Canadians safe, to give businesses the confidence to reopen their doors and people the confidence to walk through those doors, we need to cooperate on country-wide testing and contact tracing. And on this front, we’re making good progress.

At the same time, our government is ready to be a partner for the provinces and territories in supporting vulnerable people, securing personal protective equipment and working on childcare, to name a few. In other words, we’re ready to be a partner in a safe, effective restart of the economy. And today, we’re demonstrating a first step forward with support for municipalities as they face a cash crunch. From testing clinics to programs for seniors, cities and towns provide essential services. So it’s crucial that they have the resources they need. In response to COVID-19, we will make available $2.2 billion for municipalities in the coming weeks through their yearly federal support with the Gas Tax Fund.

Normally, municipalities receive these payments in two instalments, but we know that cities and towns need this money right away as they deal with COVID-19. That’s why we’re making the full 2020-21 payment available now. Minister McKenna has sent letters to all of her provincial and territorial counterparts to outline how this accelerated process will work. But here’s the bottom line: this is strong support to keep Canadians safe and our communities strong. And it’s support that will give businesses the confidence to reopen getting, getting hardworking Canadians back on the job.

This is a start. We know there’s more to be done to support municipalities and to support the entire reopening process. In the days and weeks to come, we’ll keep working with the provinces and territories on this and on a whole range of other measures.