Justin Trudeau stopped short of directly condemning sexist and lewd remarks and alleged misconduct by U.S. Republican nominee Donald Trump, with Canada’s prime minister insisting his own record as a feminist speaks for itself.
During a news conference with visiting French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Trudeau again avoided wading in to the U.S. election, repeating his line that he will work with whomever is elected U.S. president to advance Canada’s interests.
“This relationship goes far deeper than any two personalities at their countries’ respective heads,” he said. “This is my responsibility. I think, however, I’ve been very clear in my approach as a feminist, as someone who has stood clearly and strongly through all my life around issues of sexual harassment, standing against violence against women, that I don’t need to make any further comment.”
Trump has lost support from some powerful politicians within the Republican Party after the Washington Post released a 2005 video of the candidate making vulgar remarks to Access Hollywood reporter Billy Bush.
Trump’s wife Melania Trump and his vice-presidential running mate, Mike Pence, condemned the 2005 remarks, but have stood by him.
But Trump is also defending himself against a series of new allegations that he groped and kissed several women without their consent.
‘Rejected by the world’
Trudeau’s refusal to directly condemn Trump’s behaviour comes as other high-profile Canadians lash out.
Canada’s first female prime minister, Kim Campbell, described Trump as a self-celebrating sexual predator whose rhetoric threatens the democratic process.
“He has described himself as a sexual predator,” Campbell told CBC News in an interview this week. “The behaviour he has admitted to and celebrated in himself is predation.”
Other sitting politicians have cautiously weighed in. Patty Hajdu, the minister of status of women, told CBC News Network’s Power Politics that comments about the assault of women are “not acceptable” regardless of where they come from.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna was also guarded, saying she is focused on positive aspects of politics and lamented other “depressing” components.
Valls told reporters at a briefing Thursday morning that he and Trudeau discussed the U.S. election, but did not reveal details of that conversation.
But Valls was far less guarded about his own views. He said he hopes Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton wins on Nov. 8, noting that U.S. President Barack Obama was “elected by the world” and “Trump is rejected by the world.”