Singer Harry Belafonte listens to his introduction a news conference Wednesday, September 19, 2012 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
MONTREAL - Harry Belafonte has never been shy to speak out about injustice and inequality in society over the years.
The 85-year-year old singer has been involved in social activism since the days of Martin Luther King, so it's no surprise he would rather not see Republican candidate Mitt Romney become U.S. president in November.
The soft-spoken Belafonte admits he has a tendency to exaggerate but says Romney becoming president would result in ''near the end of the world."
The New York City-born performer made his comments to reporters just hours before receiving a humanitarian prize at the Montreal International Black Film Festival on Wednesday.
A special presentation of the biopic "Sing Your Song", which retraces the defining moments of Belafonte's life as an activist, singer and actor will be presented Thursday during the eighth annual festival.
Belafonte also slammed remarks made by Romney during a secretly recorded video at a fundraiser in Florida.
The video showed the Republican candidate dismissing President Barack Obama's supporters — almost one-half of American voters —as victims who are too dependent on government.
Belafonte took issue with those remarks.
"I think there are a handful of people who have seriously corralled power and have seriously punished the generosity of people who let them have their way," he said.
"We are not the people who are taking advantage of the system, we are the people who create the system, we are the system, we're what it's all about."
Belafonte went on to say that "the better part of the American character is not very much on display at the moment."
Belafonte added he'll just let Romney continue to speak his mind.
"I must say Democrats are extremely fortunate because they themselves have done so little to really champion their own cause; they're lucky they have the Republicans."
While firmly behind Obama, Belafonte stresses that the current American president can't go it alone.
"I think he's the solution to the extent that we help him be the solution," he added.
"When I first met John Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy and several presidents in the course of my life, I never met one that wasn't in need of an act of citizenry and I think the citizens of America just have to become engaged again.
Belafonte recalled his involvement during the days of the peace movement in the '60s and the protests against the Vietnam War, a period during which he visited Canada several times.
He pointed out that one of his best friends in Canada was former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
"I deeply miss Pierre Trudeau and what he represented at a time in my own youth when he was head of state and did much to keep the world on focus," he said.
Of course, the award-winning Belafonte is better known for his acting and musical talent. His album "Calypso" sold more than one million copies.
He was also a driving force behind the 1985 "We Are the World" project to help people affected by war, drought and famine in Africa.
Belafonte has won a Tony award for his Broadway debut in "John Murray Anderson Almanac" and an Emmy for "An Evening with Belafonte."