Documents obtained by the Toronto Star under the Access to Information Act reveal the extent of the panic in Canadian diplomatic missions following PM Trudeau’s eulogy of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
According to the documents, bureaucrats frantically worked behind the scenes to repair the damage by feeding “lines” to the Canadian embassy in Washington “for use by the ambassador in responding to criticisms of PM Trudeau’s press release”. In the press release, issued on November 26, 2016, Trudeau expressed “deep sorrow” over Castro’s death and referred to him as “Cuba’s longest serving President”, a “larger than life leader” and a “legendary revolutionary and orator” who made “significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation”.
The rosy statement, completely silent on the Cuban dictator’s brutal, decades-long reign of terror, repression and human rights abuses, was met with harsh criticism from politicians in Canada and around the world, as well as ridicule from Twitterverse under the hashtag #trudeaueulogies.
Even US politicians chimed in. Cuban-American senator Marco Rubio tweeted: “Is this a real statement or parody? Because if this is a real statement from the PM of Canada it is shameful and embarrassing.” Republican senator Ted Cruz, whose father fled Cuba for the United States after the revolution, called Trudeau’s statement “disgraceful.” “Why do young socialists idolize totalitarian tyrants? Castro, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot — all evil, torturing murderers”, Cruz tweeted.
Conservative leadership hopeful Lisa Reitt slammed Trudeau for placing himself on the wrong side of history and said that he “should be ashamed of himself”. Maxime Bernier, another candidate for Conservative leadership, said that Trudeau’s “repugnant” statement has brought international mockery on Canada and suggested that Trudeau didn’t know the difference between “longest-serving president” and “dictator.”
Trudeau was also booed by the Conservatives at the House of Commons during the question period on November 29, 2016, after interim leader of the Conservative Party Rona Ambrose slammed Trudeau for his lack of judgment in glorifying Castro, under whose dictatorship thousands of Cubans were imprisoned, impoverished and even executed. “When the prime minister praised Castro, one of the world’s worst dictators, what was he thinking?” Ambrose asked the House.
Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi is co-founder and editor of CIJnews and a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He is also a co-founder of the Orient Research Group Ltd.