Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday July 19, 2019
Chastising Trump isn’t Justin Trudeau’s job. Leave that to the American voters
In his strangely phrased denunciation of the Nixonian “America: Love it or Leave It” vulgarity that U.S. President Donald Trump customized last Sunday in the style of a racist jibe, it would be unfair to say that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was dangerously foolish, or ill-advised, or even that he made a deliberate decision to strike out into the howling wilderness of American politics on Monday.
A kind of etiquette is involved in this, and there is a heightened expectation that one should express one’s disgust with the boorish American president, particularly, at any time that an occasion to do so presents itself. So it was a banality that Trudeau was questioned on the subject, and after all, it was only in response to a reporter’s question that Trudeau addressed the matter in the first place.
And even then, Trudeau did so with a 10-foot pole, but not before expressing confidence that the entire world should be sufficiently familiar by now with the purity of his state of mind that what he thought should go without saying. “Canadians, and indeed people around the world, know exactly what I think about those particular comments,” Trudeau said. Well, okay then. “That is not how we do things in Canada. A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, and the diversity of our country is actually one of our greatest strengths and a source of tremendous resilience and pride for Canadians and we will continue to defend that.”
It does Trump no harm to have somebody like Trudeau coming out of nowhere to weigh in on behalf of the four Congresswomen, or at least to give that impression. The same goes for the similarly pro-multiculturalism New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern, who also expressed revulsion with Trump’s utterances. The criticisms Trump’s tweeting elicited from outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May, and from the clownish Boris Johnson, who is a hair’s breadth away from replacing May as Conservative Party leader, are just as unhelpful. Trumpism bears little resemblance to traditional Republican conservatism. That legacy is all but spent, so who cares what British Tories think?
To understand what Trump said, which was to the effect that certain novice Congress Democrats who are neither white nor male should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” it is necessary to know something about who his remarks were directed at. They are the pugnacious and notably leftish rising stars Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. All but Omar, who arrived in the United States as a child refugee from Somalia, are American-born. But that’s almost beside the point.
But just as Omar’s virtues may not be quite as impeccable as they appear, Trudeau’s virtues don’t always hold up under close scrutiny, either. Responding to Trump’s cunningly devised attack on the Squad by claiming it’s “not how we do things in Canada,” and that a “Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian,” is hard to square with Trudeau’s near silence on the recently-adopted Quebec law, aimed almost entirely at Muslim women who wear hijabs and niqabs. Because she covers her head as her religious piety requires, Ilhan Omar would be prohibited from teaching public school in Quebec. So that, too, is “how we do things in Canada.”
Trudeau is already too susceptible to basking in the flattery that well-to-do American liberals like to shower upon him, and the liberal American style has become so prevalent in Canada that it’s becoming commonplace to imagine that Trudeau is somehow obliged to “speak out” about the gross excesses of the American right at every opportunity.
But that’s not his job. It is up to Americans to get Trump sorted. The United States is a democracy, and on Tuesday, for the first time in a century, the U.S Congress voted an official rebuke of President Trump’s ugly commentary.
For now, that will have to do. (National Post)