In New York, Canada's Trudeau takes veiled swipe at Trump

FILE PHOTO: Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa

By Doina Chiacu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday he was worried about the future of American democracy, taking a veiled swipe at former U.S. President Donald Trump during a visit to New York.

"You guys are the greatest democracy in the world," Trudeau said at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. "Right now, it's not just that it's being taken for granted by so many citizens, it's actually being devalued."

Canada's Liberal prime minister did not refer to Trump by name but had harsh criticism for policies and practices closely identified with the former president, from isolationism to stoking voter anger.

In 2021, Trudeau blamed Trump as having incited his supporters to wage the violent Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

On Friday, he said similar forces were running rampant in Canada and other democracies, with people feeling the system was rigged, and politicians were tapping into that anger and anxiety aimed at government and democratic institutions.

"Because amplifying anger is a very effective short-term mobilization policy, strategy for politics," Trudeau said. "The tougher challenge is to figure out how to roll up your sleeves and solve it."

Trudeau praised President Joe Biden, the Democrat who beat Trump in 2020 as working to address economic and other factors behind the political unrest that marked his predecessor's tenure.

Trump, a businessman turned reality television host, left behind a more polarized U.S. when he vacated the White House in January 2021, with the economy badly damaged and political violence on the rise after his false claims the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

Abroad, Trump often invoked his "America First" agenda by dismantling or disrupting multilateral pacts, which alienated allies and spawned distrust in Washington's promises.

Trudeau acknowledged that people were left behind in the economic boom that followed global free trade pacts. He stressed it was politicians' responsibility to fix that, "not to burn it all down to attack our institutions to be isolationist protectionist, nativist."

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Josie Kao)