OPINION: Trudeau must stand up against Trump

by | Feb 3, 2017 | Opinion

By: Hunter Crowther

In a maiden year with ups and downs for Justin Trudeau, Donald Trump entering the White House presented a mix bag for our country. Nearly a week after the new U.S. president signed a heavily Islamophobic themed executive order, our prime minister has remained silent.

On Jan. 27, Trump temporarily stopped immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, and indefinitely blocked Syrian refugees from the U.S.

The day after, Trudeau tweeted “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada,” followed by a picture of Trudeau greeting a Syrian child at an airport in 2016.

At no point has he publicly condemned the president. The deafening silence of our prime minister indicates he will tolerate the indecent rhetoric peddled by Trump.

On the surface, the contrast between the self-acclaimed billionaire and the self-acclaimed feminist is stark: for one, Trump’s history with misogyny, racism, sexism – its depth is so perplexing, a quick Google search paints the picture. Trudeau, on the other hand, is the soft spoken, charismatic, equality-preaching head of state who Canada happily elected in the fall of 2015.

After Trump’s victory in November, the casual Canadian arrogance of humbly bragging about how humble we are was as apparent as ever.

‘Look at how Justin holds his wife’s hand, Trump doesn’t even look at Melania!’ as if public displays of affection holds sway on public policy. But since Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, the only mention of the president from Trudeau was congratulations on entering the Oval Office.

On Tuesday in the House of Commons, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair challenged Trudeau to condemn Trump.

“A Canadian ally is blocking access to their country to individuals based on their religion and place of birth,” Mulcair said in Question Period. “The prime minister talks about the importance of standing up to intolerance and racism.

“So, why is he refusing to denounce this policy that breaches fundamental human rights and that will inevitably have consequences for Canada?”

Trudeau immediately brought up the “important double role” the Canadian government has: protecting and growing Canadian jobs through the U.S., and “standing up for Canadian values and principles,” citing the compassionate traits usually associated with Canadians.

“I’m sorry Mr. Speaker, but it is always the role of a Canadian prime minister to stand up to racism and hatred,” Mulcair replied immediately.

“(W)ill the prime minister denounce, on behalf of all Canadians, the Muslim ban when he meets with the President of the United States,” he continued. “Yes or no?”

Trudeau, again, echoed his previous comments, saying he would do his best to best represent Canadian values.

“Enough with the fine words, that’s too easy,” Mulcair said. “Now it’s time for action.”

Last Sunday’s terrorist attack at a mosque in Sainte-Foy, Que., shook the core of our country, especially after nationwide protests in the U.S. following Trump’s immigration ban. The Islamophobic undertones that Trump promoted in his campaign have seeped into the fabric of American identity, which by proxy, seeps into ours.

Even as a nation that, according to the Government of Canada, has accepted just under 40,000 Syrian refugees since Trudeau was sworn in, every westernized society holds pockets of anti-immigration thinking, either through fear of job loss or terrorism.

And the man who slaughtered six Muslim Canadians supported Trump’s positions on immigration and refugees. While it would be unfair to place the blame of this tragedy on the feet of the president, it’s entirely fair to cite Trump’s rhetoric as a contributing factor to this act of domestic terrorism.

Trudeau is in a precarious position. Canada heavily relies on the U.S. through trade and treaty, and many worry an on the record negative comment towards Trump could hurt us in the long run.

But Trudeau can’t be tough through selfies and subtweets. Our prime minister only has to look back at his father, Pierre Elliott, and his relationship with former U.S. President Richard Nixon. The elder Trudeau government served for the entirety of Nixon’s presidency, and despite threats to trade agreements through the two nations, Pierre Elliott did not back down.

Even after Nixon, considered one of the most despicable people to hold the highest office in the land, called Pierre Elliott a “son of a bitch,” the former prime minister replied that he’d “been called worse things by better people.”

Now is not the time for Canada to worry about the eventual renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement or how the new White House administration will affect our economy. If Trudeau calls out Trump’s B.S., Canadians and the rest of the planet will stand by the prime minister.

If Trudeau genuinely wants to best represent Canadian values, he must make it abundantly clear to Trump that the country will not tolerate the xenophobic hyperbole that’s encapsulated America.

If not, Canadians will not tolerate Trudeau in the next federal election.