Jun 8, 2021
Justin Trudeau Press Conference Transcript: Muslim Family Killed in London Terrorist Attack
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a press conference on June 8, 2021 to address the attack in London, Ontario that killed 4 members of a Muslim family. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Justin Trudeau: (00:04)
Hello, everyone. [French 00:00:05]. What happened on Sunday in London, this act of terrorism and Islamophobia is sickening. It is heartbreaking. It’s hard to find words that are enough. What can be said when yet another family has had their loved ones ripped away, when a child is in hospital, when a community is in mourning? All I can say is this, to everyone who is grieving, who is angry, who is afraid, your neighbors stand with you. Your community stands with you. We will not let hate divide us.
Justin Trudeau: (00:48)
This evening, I’ll be in London, Ontario to join with the community for a vigil. Across the country, Canadians are holding each other in grief and in mourning. When people leave flowers, when they light candles, when they check in on neighbors and friends, they remind us that the hatred of one person can not and will not stand between us. Last night, I spoke with the Mayor of London, Ed Holder, and Nawaz Tahir, a representative of the London Muslim community. I shared my condolences and we talked about what more we must do to keep our communities safe. Islamophobia is real. Hatred has consequences, and it must stop. Whether through the security infrastructure program, by cracking down on online extremism, or by dismantling far right hate groups, we will continue doing everything we can to fight violence in every form. The consequences of doing anything less are simply too great. [French 00:02:02].
Justin Trudeau: (02:02)
The [inaudible 00:02:22] family in London was targeted because of their Muslim faith. Worshipers in [inaudible 00:02:28] were killed at prayer. Muhammad Islam’s office was murdered at a mosque in Toronto. Black Muslim women in Edmonton have been violently attacked and people across the country have faced insults, threats, and violence. The list must not grow any longer. Islamophobia and the horrific violence it brings must end. Today, non Muslim Canadians are discovering often for the very first time, the insecurity and fear felt by many Muslims Canadians when they go out in public and Canadians are wondering what they can do to help, how they can prevent our country from going further down this dark path. Well, the next time you see a woman in a hijab or a family out for a stroll, give them a smile, show them that they are respected. Show them that they are loved, that they have friends and allies across this country who will stand with them and fight for them. Together, we can counter this darkness and this intolerance and together we will hers for. [French 00:04:07]. I know that many people will have seen the Pope’s comments from a few days ago about the residential school system in Canada. And we have all heard that what communities and families want and need is an apology. Yesterday, I spoke with Archbishop [inaudible 00:05:01] of Winnipeg. Who’s also the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as Bishop Joseph Wynn from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kamloops. We discussed the importance of the church, working with indigenous communities to address the harm and intergenerational trauma caused by residents schools in Canada. Thousands of Catholics are speaking up to say that the church must apologize. Canadians hear you. The church, the federal government, and all institutions must do the right thing and work together with indigenous communities for truth and reconciliation, to ensure that families can mourn and heal. [French 00:05:46].
Justin Trudeau: (05:45)
Today, there are tens of thousands of indigenous kids who now have good classrooms to learn in, but there’s still more to do for other kids who don’t have the same opportunities. In the last five years, we’ve supported hundreds of thousands of requests under Jordan’s principle, but there remains work ahead to ensure that every child has the care they need. Since 2015, we have lifted over a hundred long-term drinking water advisories, but there are still more advisories to lift and infrastructure to build. In other words, there’s still a long way to go on the path of reconciliation. And in partnership, we will never stand down from that work. [French 00:07:04].
Speaker 1: (07:10)
[French 00:07:10]. Starting with questions on the phone. One question, one follow-up, and we will finish with questions in the room. [French 00:07:18].
Speaker 2: (07:18)
[French 00:07:18]. The first question is from [inaudible 00:07:20] from Toronto Star. Please go ahead.
Good morning, prime minister. In your remarks today and in the speech in the commons, you called out politics of division. And I think I’d like to hear you speak a bit more about who you’re specifically calling out there. And also, if you could address the remarks that one of your MTs actually made in targeting the conservative side today and their remarks today for not having supported the M103 motion by your party.
Justin Trudeau: (07:58)
Tonda, this pandemic has been tough in many, many different ways, but one of the ways that is really gut wrenching is that there has been a clear and definite rise of intolerance, of acts of hatred, of acts of racism across the country. I think we all need to be aware that Canada is not immune to the kind of intolerance, the kind of division that we have seen elsewhere around the world. And we need to be vigilant not just to stand by and hope that it doesn’t happen in Canada, but to actively fight, to bring people together, to push back against ignorance or intolerance, to push back against fear and anxiety that directs itself at minorities, at others.
Justin Trudeau: (09:04)
I think all politicians need to be aware, not just of the words they say, but the intent that underlies what they say. Are politicians working to bring people together or to divide them? I think that’s something that we’ve long had as a conversation amongst Canadians and amongst politicians. And it’s something that continues today. I don’t want to start looking to the past and pointing out too much, well, this party did this or that party did that. I think today we need to look forward. We need to recognize mistakes made by the past, learn from them, and be resolute on demonstrating that the kind of hatred that in this case gave rise to such horrific tragedy is not encouraged-
Justin Trudeau: (10:02)
… is not encouraged even accidentally. [foreign language 00:10:08]
Justin Trudeau: (10:08)
Following up, Tanda?
Thank you. Prime Minister, since 2017, there’s been a continual rise in hate crimes in Canada, not withstanding all but your government’s done on its anti-hate strategy and putting money into other efforts. So I’m pretty sure in the last 48 hours, you’ve met with your advisors and you’ve determined what you’ve done and what needs to be done. I’d like to know if you’ve landed on any ideas about what needs to be done to curb that rise in hate crimes. And is it time for your government to speak out more strongly against Bill 21 in Quebec where we see Muslims are specifically excluded from the public service if they’re wearing their traditional religious garb?
Justin Trudeau: (12:14)
I think there are many questions that people across the country will be asking themselves about how they can do a better job of standing against intolerance and encouraging understanding and acceptance of people who are different. I think that’s one of been and has been one of the great strengths of Canada in the past, but one on which there are all too many examples of us falling short as a country over the past generations.
Justin Trudeau: (12:44)
We have done much, as you point out, over the past number of years to fight the rise of hatred and intolerance, but there is always more to do, and we will engage in that and we will continue, whether it’s protecting mosques and churches and synagogues with extra investments in security, which is heartbreaking to have to do, but is necessary. Whether it’s fighting online hatred, whether it’s banning right-wing extremist terrorist groups, like the Proud Boys. These are the kinds of things that we need to continue to do, and ensure also that even while government does its part and continues to do more and more, ordinary Canadians are also understanding that they are part of the solution as well, not accepting casual intolerance in the workplace or in your community. Standing up as an active ally of people who are facing discrimination, understanding the microaggressions and the intolerance that are faced by racialized Canadians, by visible minority Canadians, by so many Canadians every single day in their daily lives. We all need to be better allies and active in the fight against intolerance, ignorance and hatred.
Justin Trudeau: (14:08)
[foreign language 00:14:08].
Speaker 3: (14:12)
[foreign language 00:14:12].
Speaker 4: (14:18)
[foreign language 00:14:18]
Justin Trudeau: (14:44)
[foreign language 00:14:44] I think we all understand that we want to get back to normal. We want to start traveling again, but it’s very clear that even though one dose has allowed us to significantly protect Canadians, to remove many of the pressures from our public health systems, it is still an incomplete protection, and we need people to get the full two doses of their vaccines. And that’s why easing of restrictions will be focused on Canadians who are fully vaccinated, both because that’s what the science dictates, particularly when it comes to some of the new variants of concern, like the Delta variant. The difference between protection of one dose of vaccine versus two doses of vaccine is quite significant. That’s why we continue to encourage people to get double vaccinated, to make sure we can end with this as quickly as possible and turn to helping people around the world also get protection from COVID-19.
Justin Trudeau: (17:13)
[foreign language 00:17:13].
Speaker 4: (17:15)
[foreign language 00:17:15]
Justin Trudeau: (18:38)
[foreign language 00:18:38]
Justin Trudeau: (18:38)
[foreign language 00:18:38].
Speaker 3: (18:44)
[foreign language 00:18:44].
Speaker 5: (18:44)
[foreign language 00:18:44]
Justin Trudeau: (19:21)
[foreign language 00:19:21]
Justin Trudeau: (20:01)
[foreign language: French 00:20:01]
Speaker 6: (20:16)
[foreign language: French 00:20:16]
Justin Trudeau: (20:31)
[foreign language: French 00:20:31] – [foreign language: French 00:22:34].
Speaker 6: (22:36)
[foreign language: French 00:22:36]
Annie Bertram Oliver: (22:37)
Hello, Prime Minister it’s Annie Bertram Oliver with CTV National News. In 2017, parliament passed a liberal motion, condemning Islamophobia. You’ve criticized the 91 MPS who didn’t vote for the motion, but you’ve been Prime Minister for four years since then. What specifically have you done in that time to combat and reduce Islamophobia in Canada?
Justin Trudeau: (22:54)
We have made significant investments through the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion, which is a new post that we brought in to ensure that everything we do is focused on recognizing intersectionalities, recognizing the systemic discrimination that exists, highlighting and naming Islamophobia alongside antisemitism, alongside anti-black racism, alongside anti-Asian racism.
Justin Trudeau: (23:25)
We have taken strong measures to push back against intolerance towards people of various religions. We have moved forward with security infrastructure investments to keep community centers and places of worship safer. We’ve moved forward on better community support programs and education programs. We’ve continued to move forward on more diversified hiring practices, both in the public service and across the country. We know there is much, much more work to do, and we will continue to do it in ways that partner with the Muslim community across country, and indeed all communities that face discrimination and racism. We are committed to moving forward in ways that highlight that, in Canada, differences and diversity should always be a source of strength, never a source of weakness. There is still much more work to do, but we will continue to do that.
Speaker 7: (24:33)
I want to ask you about free speech because in the M-103 debate, there was always the concern about free speech. So how do you balance, I guess, fighting Islamophobia with concerns about free speech. I also want to ask you about the Quebec Secularism Law, because you’re talking about uniting Canadians and bringing the other … And you’re not making any mention of what’s happening in Quebec in terms of the Secularism Law there. Can I ask you what you think about that, given these terrible events?
Justin Trudeau: (25:02)
First of all, the defense of freedom of expression is in our charter and it is fundamental to this government and to our country. People need to be able to express themselves. There need to be freedom of conscience, there needs to be freedom of religion. Those are things that we cherish as a country. There isn’t, however, a freedom to hate. Hatred, hate speech, is not allowed in Canada. And the line that every government needs to walk between, of course, protecting freedom of expression, but not permitting incitement to hatred or incitement to violence is one that is continual, as a battle, as a reflection, and as technologies change, as means of communications change, we need to up with that. What is important is to ensure that yes, there is always freedom to criticize, freedom to challenge one’s government, freedom to express one’s opinions, but not freedom to push intolerance and hatred against fellow Canadians or discrimination against people who are different.
Justin Trudeau: (26:18)
And in regards to secularism, Canada is a country that separates church and state. Our public institutions are inclusive and should not judge on the basis of religion. That is something that is a core principle of Canadian governance, and it applies right across the country. There have been, over the past years, conversations around various measures here or there, including Quebec’s Bill 21. And I look forward to hearing from Quebeckers on reflections around that over the coming weeks. The reality is Bill 21 is being challenged by Quebeckers who are defending their rights, through their court systems, as is their right to do. And we’re of course watching carefully.
Justin Trudeau: (27:19)
[foreign language: French 00:27:19] – [foreign language: French 00:29:10]
Justin Trudeau: (27:19)
Hi, Prime Minister, Chris Reynolds, Canadian Press. Why did you abstain from the NDP motion yesterday on the motion on legal battles against a pair of rulings involving First Nations children, and will you drop those court cases? Yes or no?
Justin Trudeau: (29:32)
We have been very, very clear that kids, or now adults, who suffered harm at the hands of the Child Welfare System deserve compensation. We absolutely have recognized that from the very beginning, and we have worked with and will continue to work with communities to establish what is the just and fair compensation for these individuals. At the same time, as a government …
Justin Trudeau: (30:03)
… for these individuals. At the same time, as a government, we have moved forward on historic legislation to end the child welfare system that has been taking kids from their communities, from their language, from their culture, and causing longterm, and in some cases, irreparable harm to them. That’s why we passed Bill C-92 on child and family services and are working with Indigenous communities and provinces to ensure that communities stay in charge of and can protect within their language, within their culture, kids who are at risk.
Speaker 8: (30:42)
Speaker 9: (30:47)
… on both sides, the Mayor of Niagara Falls saying that he has it on good authority that the gradual reopening of the border will be June 21st for those who are double vaccinated. Can you confirm or deny that please?
Justin Trudeau: (31:00)
We have no announcements to make today. June 21st, the 21st of every month is the day on which the measures we’ve had for many, many months between Canada and the United States does get rolled over or not. We are still very much working both with medical professionals, with epidemiological experts, with partners in the United States and when there are announcements to make, you can be sure we’ll be making them. [foreign language 00:31:31].
Speaker 10: (32:01)
[foreign language 00:32:01].
Justin Trudeau: (32:23)
[foreign language 00:32:23].
Speaker 8: (34:27)
Last question in the room.
Marieke Walsh: (34:28)
Good afternoon, Prime minister. Marieke Walsh with the Globe and Mail. Do you agree with what experts and advocates and activists in the community say that Bill 21 fosters hatred and fosters discrimination? Do you agree with that?
Justin Trudeau: (34:42)
No. I think it is extremely important to recognize that provinces have the rights to put forward bills that align with their priorities. I think people have a right to question those and go to court to defend the rights, as is happening right now. And I think there are going to be reflections about a number of pieces of legislation, including Bill 21, as we move forward out of this pandemic where people have spent a lot of time wearing masks, and also understanding how important it is for all of us to fight against intolerance and Islamophobia. But I have long expressed my disagreement with Bill 21, but I have also indicated that it is for Quebecers to challenge and defend their rights in court, which they have been doing first to sit there both down the compound. [foreign language 00:35:55].