Trudeau Apologizes for Brusque Response to Indigenous Protesters

(Bloomberg) -- Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau took less than 24 hours to apologize for a dismissive response to indigenous protesters at a Liberal Party fundraiser.

“From time to time I’m in situations where people are expressing concerns or protesting a particular thing, and I always try to be respectful and always try to engage with them in a positive way,” Trudeau said in a hastily arranged media scrum Thursday morning. “That’s how I believe democracies should function -- and I didn’t do that last night. Last night, I lacked respect toward them and I apologized for that.”

Trudeau came to power in 2015 pledging to reconcile with Canada’s native peoples, but is heading into his campaign for re-election facing a slow-burning scandal stemming in part from his decision to move the country’s first indigenous justice minister into a new role at the start of the year.

Video of his encounter with protesters demanding answers about dismal conditions in an indigenous community in northwestern Ontario was being widely circulated Wednesday evening and was leading newscasts throughout the morning.

“The situation in Grassy Narrows is one that we have been following for quite a while,” Trudeau told reporters in Halifax. “It’s something that is of real concern and a real piece of the path of reconciliation that we must walk on.”

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