Tuesday, June 2, 2020

LILLEY: Trudeau stumbles on questions about Trump and racism

LILLEY: Trudeau stumbles on questions about Trump and racism

Justin Trudeau stared straight ahead into the camera. For a time, I thought his intent was to ignore the difficult question he had been asked.
Eventually, eyes fixed on the camera, the PM began to give signs. He looked down, he looked up, his jaw clenched and shifted to one side, and dithering gave an audible sigh before reluctantly answering.
What caused all this consternation at Trudeau’s daily morning show, an event that is normally smooth sailing for the PM? It was a difficult question on race and the unrest in the United States and for the second day in a row it came from CBC’s Tom Parry.
“You’ve been reluctant to comment on the words and actions of the U.S. President. But we do have Donald Trump now calling for military action against protesters,” Parry said.
“We saw protesters tear gassed yesterday to make way for a presidential photo op. I’d like to ask you what you think about that. And if you don’t want to comment, what message do you think you’re sending?”
Trudeau froze, thinking of what to say, detailing with his face, his eyes, his jaw, that he was uncomfortable with what he had just been asked.
Just the day before, Parry had asked Trudeau if his words on racism still carried weight given his past use of blackface.
As he often does, the PM didn’t answer the question put to him but instead turned his answer into a lecture about how we all need to do better.
“We need to see that, not just as a government, and take action, but we need to see that as Canadians,” Trudeau said expressing the very real fact that many black Canadians, many Canadians from visible minorities do experience racism.
“We need to listen, we need to learn, and we need to work hard to fix, to figure out how we can be part of the solution on fixing things,” Trudeau said.
He never addressed the issue of Trump. He spoke of what we, meaning all of us, need to do.
I don’t want to dwell on Trudeau’s own past racist actions and his history of blackface. We all know about that and many Canadians forgave him. I don’t want to dwell on his own Liberal Party’s history of racism — like Sir Wilfrid Laurier sending agents to Oklahoma to stop black farmers from settling in the prairies, stopping immigration from India by imposing bizarre transportation requirements, jacking up the head tax on Chinese immigration to $500, a fortune back in 1903.
Government of Canada Archives Supplied / Government of Canada Archives
Did you know that Laurier once signed a cabinet order in 1911 which banned, “any immigrants belonging to the Negro race, which race is deemed unsuitable to the climate and requirements of Canada.”
So yes, there is a history of racism in Canada, one we should all know about, and it doesn’t belong to one group or one party as Liberals would often have you believe.
We are also a country that has employed many of the tactics being used to disperse crowds in the United States right now. I should know, I’ve covered the protests across the country under Liberal, Conservative and Parti Quebecois governments.

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