Thursday 5 March 2015

For the record: Justin Trudeau believes in the Red Cross

A recent opinion piece by Carol Goar in the Toronto Star, titled Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is running out of second chances, expressed concern that the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada was a serial blunderer and, in effect, unfit to be Prime Minister of Canada.
Mikhail Kasyanov meets with Chrystia Freeland, 
Justin Trudeau, and Marc Garneau

The list of gaffes would be enough to warrant its own Wikipedia entry: his embrace of Tory turncoat Eve Adams; getting caught moonlighting as a well-paid public speaker while an MP; expressing his “level of admiration” for China’s “basic dictatorship”; his expulsion of 32 senators from the Liberal caucus without warning or consultation; his bold lie when pledging to allow “open nominations for all Liberal candidates in every single riding in the next election”; his arbitrary removal of Liberal MPs’ right to vote according to their consciences on moral issues.

That Star article was on February 19, two weeks ago.

Since then, Mr. Trudeau was incorrectly quoted by his own party as saying that he had met slain Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov. Mr. Trudeau, full of passion, was quoted as saying that “Mr. Nemtsov and I met in Ottawa just a few months ago, where we discussed his unwavering and passionate desire for a free and prosperous Russia."

The problem is: that didn’t happen, and Trudeau said no such thing. Instead, Trudeau had met with ex-Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov.

A lowly Liberal staffer had manufactured the quote and put it on the Party website. And it was the Liberal Party that apologized, not Trudeau himself. Trudeau had told the staffer to write up something expressing his “shock and sadness” at Nemtsov’s death, but felt no need to approve the comment before it was released.

In other words, un-named staffers have the authority to manufacture quotes on behalf of the leader of the Liberal Party, and the leader does not deem it necessary to even read these quotes. Treated as an administrative flub, the story was not considered worthy of comment by many news outlets. But it should have been, because it speaks to a deep structural problem within the Liberal Party, and lax attitude to the value of Trudeau’s thoughts and words.

Then, Trudeau went to the University of British Columbia, where students asked him some serious questions, and where he refused to talk to the media. He was specifically queried as to why he supports the Conservative government’s new anti-terrorism legislation (Bill C-51), even if oversight amendments are rejected.

He had no good answer, other than to explain, in a rather backhanded way, why they should vote for the NDP, which is making a principled stand against the bill.

“I appreciate that,” said Trudeau. “Yes, I appreciate that. Yeah. Thank you for expressing your concern and I’ve heard this. We’ve heard this from Canadians and I share those concerns about this bill and that’s why the pressure that you and everyone else are putting on this government is getting them to understand that if they don’t bring in oversight, they’re going to have a very difficult time in the next election campaign.”

The idea, apparently, is to vote for the Liberals in the coming election, so that they can then bring in the oversight that they didn’t fight for when in opposition. To use parliament to actively oppose Bill C-51, which the NDP are doing, would somehow reduce it to a “partisan” issue, which Trudeau claims to be above.

Efforts to move Trudeau into a more serious discussion of this matter failed also when he appeared on CBC’s As It Happens. There, he said that his party’s concerns with regard to the lack of oversight in Bill C-51 will be expressed in committee, even though he has signaled that the Liberal Party will already approve the bill as is. Here too his dodge was couched as a move to higher ground, given that the government is in a majority position and Trudeau doesn’t want to be “partisan”.

It is understandable, then, that when pressed by host Carol Off to tell Canadians what it is, exactly, that he stands for, he said: “I highly recommend people pick up my book 'Common Ground'.”

Aware that this non-answer doubled as a craven plug, he was quick to say that all proceeds go to the Red Cross.

So, for the record: Justin Trudeau believes in the Red Cross.

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

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