Manitobans, including the former Canadian ambassador to the United States, reacted with near-universal shock and disgust as violent pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol building Wednesday afternoon.
“This is a very dark chapter of their democracy,” said Gary Doer, former Canadian ambassador to the United States and former Manitoba premier.
“Today is basically charging up the emotion that the election was stolen and firing up the Trump folks that ended up being rioters,” said Doer.
“I think was a horrible example of leadership.”
Officials said the Capitol building has been secured after protesters supporting U.S. President Donald Trump violently stormed the House Chamber to prevent president-elect Joe Biden’s certification, leaving one woman dead.
The Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C., said the woman, who was shot inside the Capitol during the protest, died at a nearby hospital. No other details were provided.
Doer said the Canadian Embassy is about a 10-minute walk to Capitol Hill, a walk he made numerous times as Canadian ambassador, with “tremendous security.”
“I think there’ll be a lot of postmortems on on what happened and why it happened.”
Doer said he hopes the certification will continue, and urged lawmakers to “proceed this evening.”
House speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN that leaders of Congress will resume the joint session Wednesday night to certify Biden as president when the Capitol building is “cleared for use.”
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said he was thinking about those whose lives were in danger.
“Respect for the democratic process and the peaceful transition of power is a cornerstone of democracy — as Canadians, we deeply value that,” he wrote on social media.
“Our thoughts are with those who work in the U.S. Capitol for their safety and for a quick de-escalation of the disturbing situation unfolding.”
American Trisha Kamani lives in Winnipeg and worked with vice-president-elect Kamala Harris when Harris worked as a district attorney in San Francisco.
Kamani said she’s been emotional all day, watching the events from afar.
“This has been a very difficult afternoon,” she told 680 CJOB.
“Peaceful protest has always been an important mechanism of our democracy. But what we’re witnessing this afternoon at the U.S. Capitol is absolutely reprehensible.”
She was shocked that there wasn’t more of a police presence in the first place, said Kamani, noting larger presences at other protests.
“Absolutely there should have been a stronger police presence. I’ve been in that building many, many times. It is not easy to get in there,” said Kamani.
“It makes me really wonder how they were even even able to get into the speaker (Nancy Pelosi)’s office, personal chambers and sit in her chair, leave her notes and incite such violence all around.”
Former Winnipegger Rick Boland currently lives in Colorado and said protests have spread across the country to several U.S. cities, including his own.
“You know, I went overseas to fight for democracy. And now I’m watching it erode right here in my own backyard. Terrible.”
Boland, who grew up in Winnipeg, said his family left Ukraine to escape violence, and Ukrainians who were celebrating Christmas Wednesday will be contemplating the country they left behind.
“It’s really hard to imagine. I mean, my family left Ukraine because of a revolution and it has never recovered. You can’t unring the bell.”
“This is a reminder that democracy needs our attention and that it can be fragile,” Boland added.
“The fear and the frustration and the disgust that we’re feeling here tonight in Colorado, I hope it motivates people in Canada to realize that there has to be a role for civility in democracy.”
Ben Miller, acting chair of Democrats Abroad based in Winnipeg, said he was horrified to watch the violence unfold.
“These are crimes these people are committing. So they deserve to be called to justice for it,” he said.
Miller called out President Trump for his actions, including a video the president sent out telling protesters to go home, but also telling them “we love you, you’re very special people.”
“Just uncalled for,” said Miller.
“He’s a greedy, selfish person and he’s trying to burn down the house on his way out. And I think he needs to be called to task for that. I don’t know what they can do to this guy just two weeks before Joe Biden is inaugurated.”
— With files from Emerald Benadoun