Rex Murphy: Justin Trudeau has become a punchline on the world stage — for good reason
This is a sad moment — for Canada and its standing within the free world
It is a brazen thing to go to other countries like some John the Baptist for the democracies, shortly after having trampled all over the rights of those involved in a largely peaceful democratic protest.
Let me make a plain, direct statement: The trucker protest was not an attempted coup. It was not a rebellion. It was not an assault on Canada’s democracy. It was none of those things.
The convoy protest was strong and present, but it was unthreatening and largely non-violent. It was superbly Canadian. It should not be slandered.
And it surely should not be used as some sort of example of anti-democratic forces by the leader of the country in which it took place. Most especially when he goes about the world delivering passionate defences of the idea of democracy itself.
To defend democracy, you should adhere to its principles. Don’t go to Brussels to preach what you skip over in Ottawa. Some examples:
For a start, don’t sic the banks on peaceful protesters.
Don’t call protesters racist and homophobic and characterize them as a fringe minority and stoke public anger against them with your extravagant and mean rhetoric.
Don’t rhetorically isolate one small portion of the Canadian population and paint them all as villains and seditionists and insurrectionists in a blatant attempt to whip up animosity towards them and their cause.
Don’t, as the leader of a democracy, claim they were out to overthrow the government. This is so much an overstatement it is really difficult to understand how some in the press actually repeated it.
It was plainly rubbish. If this was an attempted coup, a Che Guevara-style raid on the capital, it was the most amateur, inefficient and ludicrous coup in the history of coups. Was the plan to park the government out of power?
A leader preaching democracy abroad wouldn’t apply tactics that are more appropriate for the infiltration of ISIL terrorists to free citizens who have a legitimate beef with their government. He wouldn’t give himself the power to reach into personal bank accounts. He wouldn’t use the brute authority of the federal government to interfere with their fundraising.
All this being the case, maybe Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should think twice before wandering into an international forum, during a time of real war and death, and evoking the Canadian protest in the context of Ukraine’s savage hurt and danger.
Ukraine is bleeding. Save Canada’s calmer disturbances for a different, less tragic moment.
Yet Trudeau seems to believe, and half the Canadian press seem willing to oblige his belief, that the Ukraine crisis can act as a hall-pass or a cover for his anti-democratic invocation of the Emergencies Act.
Our circumstances are not Ukraine’s. Not even close. Nor should they be a water slide from accountability for the most imposing invasion of civil rights in half a century. Trudeau, with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s sweet compliance, called up emergency powers, ran roughshod over civil liberties and let the banks loose on private accounts — all because he didn’t like a protest movement.
And yet, three weeks later, after all that, Trudeau went over to Brussels and presumed to tell European parliamentarians that, “The leaders of those convoys were effective in turning citizens with real anxieties against the system best suited to allay those concerns.”
He presumed to lecture them on “leadership” and confronting the threat posed by Russia. Yet, given his record, who is listening? Given his government’s treatment of veterans, who can believe his fealty to the Canadian military? Given his lack of interest in civil liberties, who would not question his commitment to democratic principles? This is indeed a sad moment — for Canada and its standing within the free world.
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