OTTAWA — Shortly after violent rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol building Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he’s confident in the strength of America’s democratic institutions and is hopeful “everything will return to normal shortly.”
Trudeau made the comment in a radio interview with Vancouver’s News 1130, saying he is “obviously” concerned about what’s happening in Washington D.C., and is following the situation closely.
“There is an important electoral process unfolding in the United States,” he said. “I think we all want it and need it to unfold properly and peacefully. So we certainly hope things will calm down. But we’re going to keep watching carefully.’
Watch: Lawmakers evacuated as rioters storm U.S. Capitol. Story continues below video.
The prime minister chose a cautiously optimistic tone when asked if he’s confident a peaceful transition will happen stateside later this month on Jan. 20.
“I think the American democratic institutions are strong and hopefully everything will return to normal shortly,” Trudeau said. “But we’re going to continue to do what we need to do to make sure that Canadians are well served in our relationship with the United States, regardless of how things unfold.”
The prime minister later tweeted that Canadians were “disturbed and saddened by the attack on democracy in the United States.”
Opposition leaders also weighed in.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet blamed the U.S. president by name for causing the “degrading” situation that saw security breached inside the U.S. Capitol building.
Members of the U.S. Congress met earlier to certify president-elect Joe Biden’s November election win.
Biden responded to the chaos in the capital with a televised speech from Wilmington, Del., describing the scenes inside and outside the Capitol building as an insurrection.
“In this hour, our democracy is under unprecedented assault,” he said, calling the certification process of the electoral college vote a “sacred ritual.”
Biden called on Trump to “step up” and go on national television to “fulfil his oath and defend the Constitution” by asking for an end and to call off the president’s supporters, whom he called “extremists dedicated to lawlessness.”
Trump shared a minute-long video message telling people to go home while refusing to concede the election.
Facebook removed the video. The company’s vice president of integrity cited the emergency situation and explained “We removed it because on balance we believe it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence.”
The day’s agenda for Congress included a formal process to certify Arizona’s electoral results, a state won by the Democratic Party. Rep. Paul Gosar, who represents the state’s fourth congressional district, objected to certification to the applause of his Republican colleagues.
Electoral votes are already certified at the state level but they also need to be recognized federally.
Republican lawmakers, instigated by outgoing President Donald Trump’s efforts to subvert election results, plan to object to the results for every state they lost.
It’s a last-ditch effort by the president to overturn the election results, but it’s a hopeless one as each objection must be debated separately by the House and the Senate. The tactic is only successful only if both chambers support the objection in separate votes.
Chaos erupted in the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. after rioters, some armed, stormed past security barriers and pushed aside police officers.
They shattered the glass on doors to get inside the building. Outside, thousands of people gathered, some holding Trump flags while chanting “We want Trump!”
Canisters of tear gas were fired by police inside the rotunda.
The chamber was locked down and lawmakers were advised to shelter in place inside their offices for safety.
As pro-Trump supporters moved their way through the building, their presence inside prompted security officers to guard the floor of the House of Representatives and draw their guns at the chamber’s doors.
At least one person made it to the speaker’s dais in the Senate, pumped their fist into the air and cried “Trump won that election!”
With files from Elise Foley, Igor Bobic