Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave a lengthy pause when asked about the use of tear gas on protesters in the US, adding that Canadians were watching their southern neighbour with “horror and consternation”.
Mr Trudeau paused for 21 seconds when asked about US President Donald Trump and methods used to clear demonstrators for a photo opportunity.
Mr Trudeau has long been careful not to criticise his counterpart as Canada relies on the US for 75% of exports.
But the Canadian, who is usually quick to answer, paused and struggled to come up with the right words when asked about Mr Trump calling for military action against protesters and the use of tear gas for a photo opportunity.
The prime minister avoided mentioning Mr Trump directly.
Mr Trudeau said: “We all watch in horror and consternation at what is going on the United States.”
“It is time to pull people together.”
Police violently broke up a peaceful and legal protest by several thousand people in Lafayette Park across from the White House ahead of a speech in the Rose Garden by Mr Trump on Monday.
It is time to pull people together
The protesters had gathered following the killing of black man George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis a week earlier, with similar protests continuing around the US.
After demonstrators were cleared, Mr Trump strolled out of the White House gates and walked across the cleared Lafayette Park to make a surprise visit to St John’s Church.
The president, standing alone in front of cameras, raised a Bible but did not mention Mr Floyd, the church or the peaceful protesters police had just cleared away.