Russia’s humiliation at the 2014 Sochi Olympics was compared to the upheaval in Ukraine by Justin Trudeau, the leader of the Canadian Liberal Party. What the MP said has drawn backlash from the NDP and Tories, who are outraged by Trudeau’s comment, many expressing how the Ukraine crisis is not a laughing matter.
Trudeau was interviewed on Radio-Canada’s Tout le monde en parle, a French interview show popular in Quebec. The MP was asked whether he thinks Canada should be more involved in helping with the crisis in Ukraine. Trudeau responded in French by stating that”Canada should do more” and that the liberals have been encouraging the government to take more action. He then went on to jokingly say how worrying it is that Russia lost in hockey, for which the Canadian men’s team eventually won gold, and how he fears they will carry their bad mood over to the Ukraine crisis.
When asked by the show’s host, Guy Lepage, “Just because of hockey?” Trudeau backed up his comments by stating that he is trying to bring light to a situation that is extremely serious.
Employment Minister and Conservative MP, Jason Kenney, was one outspoken critic of Justin Trudeau turning the Ukranian crisis into a laughing matter. In a tweet, Kenney cited Trudeau’s previous slip-up, in which he said China was his favorite country outside of Canada, and expressed his admiration for “their basic dictatorship.”
That comment drew ire among many Chinese who were wrongly tortured or imprisoned by the Chinese government for supporting democracy. “Foolish” was the word that a member of the Federation for a Democratic China used to describe Trudeau’s comment back in November 2013.
Again, Trudeau has spoken more “foolish” words regarding international affairs, this time concerning Ukraine, which has seen its worst and bloodiest days in the post-Soviet era. In two days, 75 people were reported to have been killed. On the day Trudeau made his remark, Canada announced, along with the European Union, economic sanctions against Viktor Yanukovych, the President of Ukraine. Yanukovych has been charged for mass crimes against protesters who opposed his rule. He has since fled to a pro-Russian area by the Black Sea peninsula.
Liberal Deputy Leader Ralph Goodale, along with Marc Garneau, a liberal foreign affairs critic, defended Trudeau. Both stated that the liberals talked about the crisis in Ukraine and adopted a resolution with Trudeau’s full support.
Garneau also pointed out how the liberals also called out Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and advised him not to interfere in the Ukrainian crisis and “with the will of the Ukrainian people.” Garneau went on to say that Kenney, along with Industry Minister James Moore, who tweeted “unreal” in response to Trudeau’s comments, is taking advantage of the situation for “cheap partisan reasons.”
According to Garneau, the words were taken out of context. In fact, Trudeau was very serious about the Ukraine situation. Immigration Minister Chris Alexander thought otherwise, and summarized Trudeau’s recent slip-ups by stating how Trudeau has now shown a support for communism, expressed a belief in the budgets magically balancing themselves, and compared the future of Ukraine based on results of the hockey games during the Sochi Games.
The 42nd Canadian federal elections will take place Oct. 19, 2015. Whatever Justin Trudeau’s intentions may be, turning the Ukraine crisis into a laughing matter, as critics describe it, on top of his other slip-ups over the past year, could work against the MP. This is all occurring during what is now a crucial time as the federal election nears.
By Kollin Lore