Delacourt: There’s a line Justin Trudeau won’t cross when it comes to fighting Islamophobia

Unfortunate. Perspective of former CPC candidate Jeff Bennett revealing:

Justin Trudeau has made his clearest statement yet on what he will and will not do to stand up against Islamophobia in Canada.

The prime minister says he will call out anti-Muslim crime, using the strongest words possible — “terrorism” — to condemn the killing of a family in London, Ont.

Trudeau will not, however, call out Quebec for the secularism law that has made Muslims feel unwelcome in that province — Bill 21, which forces Muslims to relinquish any religious clothing if they want to work in public professions.

“No,” Trudeau said bluntly on Tuesday when asked whether Bill 21 bred intolerance of Muslims. He talked of how Quebec had a right to make its own laws, how people in Quebec might be having “conversations” and “reflecting” on the law in days ahead, and said his government would be “watching” and “following.”

In other words, not leading.

So, to recap: anti-Muslim sentiment is wrong. Anti-Muslim crime is terrorism. Legislation that denies religious expression to Muslims is something to be discussed, but not by this prime minister or other political leaders.

None of the fine-sounding speeches in the House of Commons on Monday came anywhere near mention of the legislation in Quebec.

“Right now, people are talking to their families and saying maybe they should not go for a walk,” New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh said in an emotional speech. “There are people literally thinking about whether they should walk out their front door in our country.”

Singh was not talking about Bill 21.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole spoke from the heart about the nine-year-old child who survived the attack, and what kind of Canada he should be allowed to grow up in.

“He deserves a Canada where Muslim women of faith can wear a hijab without fear of being accosted or harassed in public,” O’Toole said.

He wasn’t talking about Bill 21 either, or his own Conservative party’s dog-whistle record on everything from “veiled voting” to “barbaric cultural practices” in the 2015 election.

What makes the silence so breathtaking is that all of Canada’s political leaders have just emerged from two weeks of hard talk about how governments in the past did too little about racism toward Indigenous people.

They are all collectively, retrospectively sorry that an entire culture suffered at the hands of successive politicians who were not courageous enough to stand up to the widespread racism at the time.

Would Canada’s blotted history be improved if we unearthed a speech of John A. Macdonald saying he was following events closely at residential schools and hoped Canadians were having conversations about them?

The contrast between Trudeau’s strong words in the Commons on Tuesday and his tiptoeing around Bill 21 was striking, and the latter may cancel out the former. The prime minister did allow that he has long opposed Bill 21, but he clearly doesn’t intend to use the weight of his office or his words to change the reality of it.

For real political bravery on Tuesday, one had to look in more out-of-the way places — to London, in fact, where a former candidate for the provincial Progressive Conservative party decided to tell the difficult-to-hear truth of racism in politics.

Jeff Bennett, who ran for the PCs in the 2014 election, recounted in a Facebook post how people in his riding were happy to see that he had replaced the former candidate, a man named Ali Chahbar. Loyal Conservatives in London told Bennett they were relieved that “his name was English and his skin was white.” Bennett remembered how Chahbar had been smeared on local talk radio with talk of sharia law and other nonsense.

Bennett wrote that he was tired of people saying London was better than what happened on Sunday. “Bullshit. I knocked on thousands of doors in the very neighbourhood this atrocity occurred. This terrorist may have been alone in that truck on that day, but he was not acting alone. He was raised in a racist city that pretends it isn’t.”

Bennett came in second in London West in 2014 and has likely abandoned any aspirations to be elected again, given his willingness to tell voters what they don’t want to hear about themselves.

This of course explains the silence on Bill 21 on Tuesday, even as the political leaders are making bold proclamations about intolerance towards Muslims. An election looms, Quebec is a crucial battleground and Bill 21 is popular.

Canadian history has been on trial, rightly, for the past two weeks, and Bill 21 is indeed making its own way through the courts. One wonders how history will judge the failure of political leaders to speak up against that legislation when they could have seized the moment.

Source: There’s a line Justin Trudeau won’t cross when it comes to fighting Islamophobia

Representatives of Chinese dissident groups reject Trudeau’s comments on racism

Of note and legitimate call-out given that criticism of the Chinese regime’s repression and other practices is not racist, just as criticism of Israeli government policies is not anti-semitic. But, as always, one has to be careful in wording to ensure the distinction is made clear:

Witnesses who appeared before the Commons special committee on Canada-China relations this week said they were troubled by comments Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made about racism — comments that left Conservatives fuming.

During a debate last Wednesday about the dismissal of two Chinese scientists from the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg, Trudeau appeared to suggest that Conservative MPs were feeding anti-Asian sentiments by asking questions.

“I hope that my Conservative Party colleagues are not raising fears about Asian Canadians,” Trudeau told the Commons.

Three women appeared before the committee as representatives of Tibetan, Uyghur and Hong Kong pro-democracy groups. Two of the three said they had personally experienced hostility and abuse during a year that has seen a well-documented wave of anti-Asian racist violence across North America.

All three also warned against soft-pedalling criticism of the Chinese government, or throttling back on efforts to block Chinese state espionage, out of a fear of appearing racist.

“Folks who claim to be standing up against anti-Asian hatred and racism, please, listen to your constituents and Asian voices,” said Tibetan activist Chemi Lhamo, whose run for student president at the University of Toronto provoked hostility and threats from Chinese nationalists.

“As an Asian woman, there is a bigger target on my back, and conflating the idea of anti-CCP [Communist Party of China] with anti-Asian is actually a much bigger disrespect.”

“I think our prime minister is really confused,” said witness Rukiye Turdush of the Uyghur Research Institute. “If we’re against the CCP, it doesn’t mean we’re against the Chinese people. It has nothing to do with anti-Asian racism. I really didn’t get why he said that.”

Biosecurity, not diversity

The government has refused to explain in detail why Xiangguo Qiu and her husband Keding Cheng were fired, and why Qiu in 2019 sent samples of Ebola and Henipah virus to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Source: Representatives of Chinese dissident groups reject Trudeau’s comments on racism

Ibbitson: Questioning government policy on China is not fomenting racism, Prime Minister

Agree:

Last week, Conservative MP Candice Bergen asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau why scientists at the Winnipeg infectious-diseases laboratory had been collaborating with Chinese military scientists. Two Canadian scientists have been fired from the lab, so Ms. Bergen’s question was reasonable. Mr. Trudeau’s response was not.

“The rise in anti-Asian racism we have been seeing over the past number of months should be of concern to everyone,” Mr. Trudeau replied, from left field. “I would recommend that the members of the Conservative Party, in their zeal to make personal attacks, not start to push too far into intolerance toward Canadians of diverse origins.”

What a foolish thing to say.

No one can deny that Canada has a long and unhappy history of discriminating against immigrants from countries in conflict with ours. On Thursday, Mr. Trudeau extended a formal apology on behalf of the government and people of Canada for persecuting Italian Canadians during the Second World War. German Canadians endured discrimination as well. Worst of all, more than 20,000 Japanese Canadians were forced into internment camps, one of the darkest stains on this country’s history, for which Brian Mulroney apologized when he was prime minister.

Asian Canadians today are suffering racist insults and worse in the wake of a virus that spread from Wuhan, China, to Canada and the rest of the world. A report released in March detailed more than a thousand incidents of harassment and physical assault against Asian Canadians between March, 2020, and February, 2021.

But while we need to protect Asian minorities from hate, we also need to question this government’s willingness to co-operate with China despite its misdeeds. It is irresponsible to slander the opposition for doing its job in asking why scientists at the Winnipeg lab were co-operating with Chinese scientists, just as it was irresponsible for the government to allege racism back in the winter of 2020, when Conservatives asked why Ottawa had not imposed a travel ban on China amid reports of a dangerous new virus emanating from Wuhan.

“One of the interesting elements of the coronavirus outbreak has been the spread of misinformation and fear across Canadian society,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu warned on Feb. 3. The best way to prevent that spread, she added “might be if the opposition does not sensationalize the risk to Canadians.”

As late as March 5, as countries around the world imposed travel restrictions, Mr. Trudeau accused his critics of intolerance for questioning Canada’s wide-open borders. “There is a lot of misinformation out there, there is a lot of knee-jerk reaction that isn’t keeping people safe,” Mr. Trudeau said on March 5. “That is having real, challenging impacts on communities, on community safety.” Days later, Canada closed its borders to the world.

Some commentators allege that even suggesting the virus might have escaped from a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan is a racist conspiracy theory. But President Joe Biden last week ordered the intelligence services to redouble their efforts to determine whether that happened.

We all need to fight racial intolerance toward Asian Canadians. But it is not racism to ask why this Liberal government still hasn’t banned, as other countries have, the use of Huawei technology in Canada’s 5G network, why it launched a failed effort to co-produce a COVID-19 vaccine with China, or why the Winnipeg lab was co-operating with the Chinese military.

China is a major power and economy. Dealing with that reality while also condemning its persecution of the Uyghur minority, its suppression of democracy in Hong Kong, its arbitrary imprisonment of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig over an extradition dispute, its aggressive actions in the South China Sea and its threatening actions toward Taiwan is one of the biggest challenges in Canadian foreign policy. It’s the job of the opposition parties to scrutinize the government’s conduct as it executes that policy. Accusing the Conservatives of fomenting racism every time they ask a legitimate question about China does more to encourage intolerance than any question the Conservatives might ask.

“The Prime Minister conflated our legitimate concerns about national security with racism against Asian Canadians,” Conservative MP Nelly Shin told the House. “He spun an inflammatory narrative that implies Conservatives are stoking intolerance. By using this false narrative, he has cheapened and undermined the ongoing efforts to combat the rise of anti-Asian racism.”

Hear, hear.

Source: Questioning government policy on China is not fomenting racism, Prime Minister

Delacourt: Justin Trudeau isn’t fighting his father’s battles in Quebec. But maybe we should

Of note:

Justin Trudeau issued no statements on Thursday to mark the 41st anniversary of Quebec’s first referendum on sovereignty.

So the prime minister’s comments from earlier this week — on Quebec’s bid to unilaterally declare itself a nation in the Constitution — will have to stand as his remarks on how far Canada has travelled from that fateful moment on May 20, 1980.

“Our initial analysis …. (is) that it is perfectly legitimate for a province to modify the section of the Constitution that applies specifically to them and that that is something that they can do,” Trudeau told reporters on Tuesday.

There is no way to view those remarks in isolation from the signature battle of his father’s career, much as the current prime minister tends to resist the historical comparisons.

Forty-one years ago this week, Pierre Trudeau was soberly, cautiously celebrating the victory of federalism against the forces that wanted to make Quebec a separate nation, with words such as these:

“To those who may wish to recreate in this land those old nationalistic barriers between peoples — barriers of which the world has been trying to rid itself — I say, we Canadians do not have to repeat the mistakes of the past,” Pierre Trudeau said in a statement after 59.5 per cent of Quebec voted “no” to a bid to embark on separation from Canada.

“All of us have the opportunity to show the whole world that we are not the last colonials on earth, but rather among the first people to free themselves from the old world of nation-states.”

That old world has re-emerged in 2021 with a twist in the form of Quebec’s new language law, which has been presented — and disturbingly accepted by Trudeau and other political leaders — as a none-of-your-business bit of provincial housekeeping. Just keeping the French language alive, drive on, nothing to see here.

Source: Justin Trudeau isn’t fighting his father’s battles in Quebec. But maybe we should

Chris Selley: Don’t you start with the ‘Quebec-bashing’ accusations, Justin Trudeau

Of note:

Certain Quebec politicians and commentators are terribly insulted on the province’s behalf. No need to hold the front page; it’s the same basic melodrama as always.

As is his wont, University of Ottawa professor and Twitter fanatic Amir Attaran has been infuriating people. This time, he tweeted mean things about Quebec: it is “led by a white supremacist government”; it’s “the Alabama of the north”; he accused the hospital employees caught on video verbally torturing Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw woman who died in a Lanaudière hospital last year, of carrying out a “medical lynching.”

As is their wont, Quebec nationalists including Premier François Legault and Parti Québécois leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon demand satisfaction. “I ask you to condemn publicly Mr. Attaran’s words and apologize to Quebecers,” Plamondon wrote to U of O president and vice-chancellorJacques Frémont. “I also ask you to intervene (to ensure) he stops this behaviour, and to apply proportional sanctions.”

As is its wont, U of O did what a university should not: offered an opinion. “I deplore these kinds of highly polarizing statements made in public forums,” Frémont wrote back to Plamondon.

At least Frémont declined to discipline Attaran. And his response wasn’t all bad: “Freedom of expression, we will agree, is not a buffet where one can pick and choose what kind of speech is deemed acceptable,” he wrote — a fine statement in principle, and in theory quite a good comeback. Quebec nationalists have recently adopted freedom of expression, academic and otherwise, as a major cause, lest (as Legault recently put it) “radical militants” send “censorship spilling out into our political debates and our media.”

In practice, however, Quebec’s notion of academic freedom tends to evaporate precisely at the moment it wounds the collective amour propre. Thus, many in Quebec who deplored the suspension of U of O professor Verushka Lieutenant-Duval for using the N-word in an academic context now want Attaran’s ears boxed. Four years ago, some of the same people successfully demanded Andrew Potter’s departure from McGill’s Institute for the Study of Canada for suggesting a “malaise (was) eating away at … Quebec society.”

Also in practice, Frémont, who was happy to throw Lieutenant-Duval to the wolves (she was later reinstated), is in no position to be making such pronouncements. And it did no good anyway: In a Monday press conference with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the topic of broadband funding, Legault said he was disappointed Frémont hadn’t condemned Attaran more harshly.

If anyone’s behaving a little differently than usual in this rote performance, it’s Trudeau. “Enough of the Quebec-bashing,” he said at the press conference, borrowing a phrase most commonly used by nationalists — including against him and his government.

When it comes to harsh allegations of racism against Canadian institutions , “Quebec bashing” is largely a misnomer. Trudeau knows very well they aren’t only directed at Quebec and Quebecers. In 2017 the co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto called Trudeau “a white supremacist terrorist.” Reactions to Trudeau’s blackface problem were replete with such charges. Among Indigenous activists, the terminology of structural racism is de rigueur. And Trudeau uses it himself.

“There is systemic discrimination in Canada, which means our systems treat Canadians of colour … differently than they do others,” he said last year, responding to protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

The real difference is that Quebec is uniquely sensitive to criticism in general, and bizarrely resistant specifically to the notion that state apparatuses might have discrimination baked into them that can manifest irrespective of any individual actor’s intentions.

“This is yet another example of systemic racism,” Trudeau said of Echaquan’s death at the time.

Legault responded with a perfect circle of logic. “My role as premier … is to bring Quebecers together, to take action … to fight racism,” he said. He didn’t want to “alienate the large number of Quebecers who think there is no systemic racism in Quebec.”

The Liberals have pulled off a neat trick throughout Quebec’s 15-year battle over minority religious rights, which has culminated (for now) in Bill 21, the ban on teachers, Crown attorneys and some other civil servants wearing hijabs and turbans and kippas: They have maintained their “party of the Charter” brand, opposing such restrictions with while not suffering much for it in Quebec.

On the issue of Bill 21, Trudeau hardly covered himself in glory during the 2019 campaign: “I am the only one on the stage who has said ‘yes: a federal government might have to intervene on this’,” he half-heartedly boasted during a leaders’ debate. But it was slightly further than Jagmeet Singh, a Sikh who wears a turban, would go, and much further than stalwart religious-rights defender Andrew Scheer would. The Conservatives lost two seats in Quebec; the NDP lost 15. Trudeau kept his job, with plenty of Quebec MPs behind him.

The Conservatives are accelerating their pitch. Erin O’Toole’s Saturday keynote speech at the Conservatives’ convention reiterated special promises to Quebec: a single tax-return (which it could have now if it just agreed to have Ottawa collect the money) and expanding French language laws into areas of federal jurisdiction, based on no compelling evidence that French (as opposed to unilingualism) is imperilled in Quebec. It’s an unsavoury and quite likely doomed endeavour.

The Liberals’ advantage here is by no means entirely earned: The party’s various Montreal fortresses aren’t impregnable for any especially good reason. But that’s all the more reason for them to stay well away from the sandbox of nationalist grievances. It’s one of the few scraps of principle any federal political party has left.

Source: https://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/chris-selley-dont-you-start-with-the-quebec-bashing-accusations-justin-trudeau/wcm/fdfea6b9-78eb-4168-9096-459a84c870ef

Ivison: Trudeau makes sudden course correction on freedom of speech

While current concerns over freedom of expression relate mainly with respect to Muslims, there are many examples from other religions. The advent of social media makes navigating between hate speech (high threshold) and that which is offensive or a microaggression:

Justin Trudeau was asked by a reporter on Tuesday whether he condemns the publication of cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad.

“No,” he said, definitively in French. “I think it is important to continue to defend freedom of expression and freedom of speech. Our artists help us to reflect and challenge our views, and they contribute to our society.”

Source: Trudeau makes sudden course correction on freedom of speech

L’expérimentation multiculturaliste

As in the separate post on Ivison’s legitimated critique of different messages in English and French regarding limits to freedom of speech, what I found more interesting that some of the usual misunderstandings of multiculturalism in Quebec, the realization that Quebec’s demographic weight will continue to decline as the rest of Canada continues to increase immigration while Quebec immigration remains largely flat:

La semaine dernière, après avoir atermoyé pendant 12 jours, Justin Trudeau a finalement réagi à la décapitation par un islamiste radical de l’enseignant français Samuel Paty, qui avait montré à ses élèves des caricatures de Mahomet. Le premier ministre a dénoncé cet attentat terroriste tout en plaidant pour qu’on abaisse les tensions. « On ne doit pas avoir d’autres tisons pour accroître les flammes », a-t-il dit. Il s’engageait à parler à différents leaders, dont « des leaders dans la communauté musulmane ici au Canada pour comprendre leurs inquiétudes, leurs préoccupations ».

On pouvait y voir une critique à peine voilée d’Emmanuel Macron, qui s’est engagé à combattre le « séparatisme islamique » en France, tout en déplorant « la crise de l’Islam », un combat qui lui vaut les foudres de nombreux pays à majorité musulmane. « Nous ne céderons rien », a dit le président français, refusant que la liberté recule devant les menaces terroristes.

Le premier ministre canadien en a rajouté une couche. Interrogé sur ce droit de dessiner Mahomet, il a affirmé que la liberté d’expression avait des limites et qu’elle devait s’exercer dans « le respect des autres » et dans le souci « de ne pas blesser de façon arbitraire ou inutile ». Il recevait l’appui sans équivoque du chef du Nouveau Parti démocratiqueJagmeet Singh.

Or, mardi, Justin Trudeau a fait volte-face en reconnaissant que « nos journalistes, nos artistes ont un rôle dans la société de nous confronter et nous devons les laisser libres de faire leur travail ».

Pourtant, sa conception du respect, voire de la bienséance, qui doit limiter la liberté d’expression est parfaitement compatible avec la position qu’il avait adoptée au sujet de la liberté d’enseignement et de ces professeures sanctionnées pour avoir utilisé, à des fins pédagogiques, un mot qui blesse des étudiants noirs.

La liberté d’expression et d’opinion est un droit fondamental de nos sociétés démocratiques, un droit qui existait bien avant l’adoption de nos chartes des droits et libertés. Le droit canadien est clair : en dehors des propos haineux, des appels à la violence, de la diffamation qui cause un dommage et du harcèlement, la liberté d’expression est entière. La parole peut ne pas être vraie ou vertueuse ; elle peut blesser. La même chose peut être dite de la liberté d’enseignement, tout aussi fondamentale, qui est aussi celle de connaître, d’explorer, de critiquer.

Justin Trudeau peut prêcher la vertu multiculturelle si cela lui chante, mais il ne peut mettre en doute des libertés fondamentales auxquelles tient la grande majorité des Québécois. Et pour ce qui est de les représenter sur la scène internationale, on repassera. Il n’avait pas à prendre de haut le président français qui défend les valeurs de la République face à l’islam radical.

Le premier ministre François Legault a remis les pendules à l’heure : il a exprimé son appui indéfectible à Emmanuel Macron et à la France. Il s’est en pris à « certains dirigeants politiques qui craignent le terrorisme et qui, devant le chantage de certains groupes religieux radicaux, sont prêts à faire des accommodements qui ne sont pas raisonnables ». La nation québécoise a des valeurs et elle entend les défendre : la liberté d’expression, la laïcité, la langue française, a-t-il dit.

Deux conceptions s’opposent. Justin Trudeau n’a que le mot « communauté » à la bouche. Il parle de la communauté noire ou de la communauté musulmane comme s’il s’agissait de blocs monolithiques d’individus composant un « État post-national » — c’est son expression — devenu un assemblage multiculturel de communautés. Le Canada est d’ailleurs le seul pays où le multiculturalisme est inscrit dans sa constitution.

Dans cette optique, le peuple québécois n’est plus qu’un groupe ethnique parmi d’autres au Canada, les « Quebs », comme disent les jeunes anglophones du West-Island.

L’autre conception, c’est celle d’une nation québécoise qui tente de poursuivre son aventure en français avec tous ceux qui s’y joignent dans une perspective universaliste et démocratique.

Depuis l’élection des libéraux, le Canada a haussé à 250 000, puis à 300 000, puis, récemment, à 400 000 le nombre d’immigrants qu’il entend accueillir chaque année. Impossible pour le Québec de maintenir ce rythme : il lui faudrait accueillir 90 000 nouveaux arrivants par an, presque le double du niveau actuel. Dictée par Ottawa, cette réduction du poids politique de la nation québécoise au sein de la fédération n’a jamais fait l’objet d’un débat public. Pour certains, Justin Trudeau et l’élite torontoise qui le soutient sont engagés dans une expérimentation sociale inédite, une « a-nationalisation », pour ainsi dire, dont il faut discuter.0 commentaire 

Source: https://www.ledevoir.com/opinion/editoriaux/589107/liberte-et-integrisme-l-experimentation-multiculturaliste?utm_source=infolettre-2020-11-05&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=infolettre-quotidienne

Glavin: On the death of Samuel Paty – Shouldn’t freedom of religion mean freedom from religion too?

Two articles responding to the reaction in many Muslim countries to French President Macron’s comments following the beheading of Samuel Paty, starting with Terry Glavin’s pointing out the hypocrisy of those who criticize Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate in the West while being silent on Chinese repression and arguably genocidal policies against the Uighurs:

Samuel Paty was a quiet 47-year-old middle-school civics teacher at the Collège du Bois d’Aulne, in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, in the suburbs of Paris. He would walk to and from school from his second-floor apartment in nearby Eragny, where he lived alone with his five-year-old son. After class, he liked to play tennis. By all accounts passionately devoted to teaching, Samuel Paty was otherwise a man of temperate disposition, well-regarded by his students and by his colleagues.

That was just three weeks ago. Now, Paty’s name is coming up in blood-curdling slogans shouted in the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh, and in arguments and imbecilities erupting in Ankara, Riyadh, Islamabad and Tehran. Ambassadors have been summoned. Diplomats have been recalled. Tuesday this week was officially International Religious Freedom Day. If there was anything worth observing about it, it’s that religious freedom must mean freedom from religion, too, or it means nothing at all.

Source: Glavin: On the death of Samuel Paty – Shouldn’t freedom of religion mean freedom from religion too?

More temperate commentary by Konrad Yakabuski along similar lines:

The beheading this month of a middle-school teacher by an 18-year-old Islamic extremist, upset that his victim had shown caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed to his students, was a crime so horrific that it shocked even France’s most-hardened anti-terrorism experts.

In a country permanently on high alert since a wave of terrorist attacks took the lives of hundreds of French civilians in 2015, the gruesome decapitation of teacher Samuel Paty was unanimously condemned by French politicians as an assault on the Republic itself.

“Samuel Paty was killed because the Islamists want our future and because they know that, with heroes like him, they will never have it,” President Emmanuel Macron declared at an Oct. 21 ceremony in honour of the slain teacher held outside the Sorbonne. “We will defend the freedom you taught and raise up secularism. We will not renounce caricatures, or sketches, even if others step back. We will offer all the chances that the Republic owes to its youth without discrimination.”

The caricatures that Mr. Paty had shown his adolescent students, as part of a lesson on freedom of expression, were the same ones that had led to an attack on the offices of the satirical publication Charlie Hebdo in 2015. That attack left 12 people dead and sparked the global “Je suis Charlie” movement in support of free speech. But Mr. Macron’s defence of the freedom of the press earned him nasty epithets throughout the Muslim world and exposed once again the clash in values between France’s secularist majority and its growing Muslim minority.

French police have rounded up dozens of suspected accomplices to the attack on Mr. Paty by a Chechen refugee who had been alerted to the teacher’s actions by French Muslims who denounced it on social media. Mr. Macron and hardline Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin have vowed further crackdowns on imams accused of promoting Islamic “separation” within France.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan led the foreign charge against Mr. Macron with weekend diatribes questioning the French President’s mental health and accusing him of “leading a campaign of hate” against Muslims akin to the pre-Second World War treatment of European Jews. On Monday, Mr. Erdogan joined growing calls for a boycott of French products. Anti-Macron protests erupted in several majority-Muslim countries.

While other Western leaders expressed solidarity with Mr. Macron in the wake of Mr. Paty’s killing, it took Prime Minister Justin Trudeau 10 days to even acknowledge the incident – and only after the Bloc Québécois brought forward a House of Commons motion condemning the attack “on freedom of expression” in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, northeast of Paris.

Questioned by journalists on Tuesday, Mr. Trudeau did condemn Mr. Paty’s killing, but declined to express his solidarity with Mr. Macron. “I’m going to take the opportunity to talk to world leaders, community leaders, leaders of the Muslim community here in Canada, to understand their worries, their concerns, to listen and to work to reduce these tensions,” Mr. Trudeau said.

Unfortunately for Mr. Trudeau, there is no middle ground in this debate. If he does not stand with Mr. Macron to defend freedom of expression, he automatically stands with Mr. Erdogan as an apologist for Muslim extremists. A listening tour will not cut it.

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne also failed the grade with a Monday tweet in which he expressed “solidarity with our French friends.” He referred to “Turkey’s recent comments” as being “totally unacceptable” but did not rebuke Mr. Erdogan personally. He promised to “defend freedom of expression with respect.”

There is no other way to interpret Mr. Champagne’s tweet except as a repudiation of Mr. Paty and Charlie Hebdo. The caricatures depicting the Prophet Mohammed were anything but respectful. That was their whole point. No religion is off limits to satirists. And thank God for that.

The right to freedom of speech is meaningless if it is subject to conditions such as “respect.” The Constitution protects freedom of speech precisely because speech that is meaningful is often controversial. It is up to the courts to determine what constitutes hate speech under Section 319 of the Criminal Code. But the bar is set mercifully high. Democracy depends on it.

This is the second time in as many weeks that Mr. Trudeau’s government chose to trample on the Charter in the name of political correctness. After a University of Ottawa professor was suspended for using the n-word as part of an educational online lecture, Mr. Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland made banal pronouncements about fighting systemic racism rather than standing up for academic freedom. It was a facile cop-out on their part.

“We will not give in, ever,” Mr. Macron tweeted on Sunday, in French, English and Arabic. “We respect all differences in a spirit of peace. We do not accept hate speech and [we] defend reasonable debate. We will always be on the side of human dignity and universal values.”

Canadians should stand with Mr. Macron, even if their government will not.

Source: Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-canadians-should-stand-with-macron-even-if-trudeau-wont/

Statement by the Prime Minister on Canadian Multiculturalism Day

More substantive than in previous years:

OTTAWA, ON, June 27, 2020 /CNW/ – The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on Canadian Multiculturalism Day:

“Today on Canadian Multiculturalism Day, I join Canadians across the country to celebrate our diversity and reaffirm our commitment to equity, inclusion, and mutual respect.

“Canadian Multiculturalism Day is an opportunity to recognize the important contributions that Canadians from different backgrounds have made – and continue to make – to build and shape a stronger, more diverse, and inclusive society.

“Multiculturalism is one of Canada’s greatest strengths and a vital component of our national fabric. All Canadians – regardless of ethnicity, religion, culture, or language – have the right to be true to who they are, and to live peacefully as friends, neighbours, and colleagues.

“While we have much to celebrate, we also recognize that we still have a lot of work to do to make this country fairer and more equal for everyone. Far too many racialized Canadians, including Indigenous peoples, Black Canadians, and Asian Canadians, face systemic racism and discrimination as a lived reality every single day. This includes micro-aggressions, which are harder to see by those who do not experience them, and systemic racism within our institutions, which too often condone, normalize, and perpetuate inequity and injustice against racialized Canadians.

“In the face of the pandemic, we’ve seen Canadians, from all backgrounds and walks of life, help their neighbours and support each other. But even during a time where we have come together, these last few weeks have highlighted that there’s more work to do as a country – especially when it comes to issues of discrimination and systemic racism.

“People across Canada and around the world have raised their voices and asked that we address the systemic racism that exists in our countries and in our institutions. We, the Government of Canada, need to work with racialized Canadians and Indigenous peoples in a meaningful way to end it. It does exist. It needs to stop. Racism and discrimination have no place in our society.

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I invite Canadians to take part in one of the virtual eventsbeing held across the country and celebrate the diversity that makes us who we are. I also encourage you to talk with your neighbours, and take time to listen and learn from someone who has had a different life experience. By gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation of the differences that make us stronger, we can build a more inclusive society.”

This document is also available at http://pm.gc.ca

Source: Statement by the Prime Minister on Canadian Multiculturalism Day

In contrast, the 2016 statement, his first year as PM:

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement to celebrate Canadian Multiculturalism Day:

“I join Canadians across the country today to celebrate multiculturalism, and our long and proud tradition of inclusion and diversity.

“As the first country in the world to adopt a policy of multiculturalism 45 years ago, Canada has shown time and time again that a country can be stronger not in spite of its differences, but because of them.

“As Canadians, we appreciate the immense freedom we have to show pride in our individual identities and ancestries. No matter our religion, where we were born, what colour our skin, or what language we speak, we are equal members of this great country.

“Our roots reach out to every corner of the globe. We are from far and wide, and speak over 200 languages. Our national fabric is vibrant and varied, woven together by many cultures and heritages, and underlined by a core value of respect. Multiculturalism is our strength, as synonymous with Canada as the Maple Leaf.

“Today, let us celebrate multiculturalism as a vital component of our national fabric, and let us express gratitude to Canadians of all backgrounds who have made, and who continue to make, such valuable contributions to our country.”

Source: Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on Multiculturalism …pm.gc.ca › news › statements › 2016/06/27 › statement-pr…

Double standards? PM and Scheer merit sympathy for wish to be with their families

At a time when the issues surrounding how governments and society should respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding health and economic crisis, one can never underestimate the propensity for silly and shallow commentary.

And the media also pays far too much attention to these superficial issues.

I am sympathetic with political leaders who want to spend time with their families during these difficult times and do not find the actions by the PM and Andrew Scheer to be unreasonable.

As unfortunately to be expected, some Conservative commentators commentators can’t resist the temptation to take aim at PM Trudeau’s going to Harrington Lake to be with his family.

And also, as expected, no sooner than their commentary and tweets are out the corresponding story regarding Andrew Scheer travelling back to Ottawa with his family on a government jet along with two MPs in a confined 9 passenger jet.

Just as previous columns expressing outrage over PM Trudeau’s personal staff were undermined by revelations of Scheer’s excessive compensation for personal expenses (paid by the Conservative party).

As Norman Spector suggested in a tweet, the government could have reduced the risk by sending a separate plane for Scheer and his family despite the additional cost.

The more egregious examples are below, starting the Candice Malcolm:

While ordinary Canadians are facing hefty fines for breaking coronavirus-related public health orders, it appears that the same rules don’t apply to the prime minister and his family.

On Sunday Sophie Grégoire Trudeau posted pictures of herself with Justin Trudeau and their children on Instagram taking part in Easter festivities. According to the advice of public health officials, Trudeau violated the government’s social distancing rules.

“Even though families across the country are having to get a little creative and celebrate a bit differently this year, we’re all in this together,” Grégoire Trudeau wrote on Instagram.

Since March 29, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and their children have been living in Harrington Lake, Que. while Justin Trudeau has remained in Ottawa.

As Justin Trudeau and his wife and children now live in separate households, the family should be practicing social distancing.

Social distancing means that individuals should avoid contact with those that live outside their household, including family members.

On Friday Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam told Canadians celebrating Easter and Passover to stay home this year.

“We need to not let down our guard. The safest plan for your holidays is a staycation for the nation,” she said.

Dr Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, added that celebrations should be limited to members of your household.

On April 1 the government of Quebec introduced strict travel restrictions across the province, including police checkpoints to prevent unnecessary travel in and out of Quebec.

Since the restrictions began, police have prevented 2,300vehicles from crossing the Ottawa-Gatineau border.

How Justin Trudeau’s trip to the family retreat in Harrington Lake would be considered necessary travel is not clear.

On Friday a family of four in Oakville was fined $880 for rollerblading in a parking lot of a community centre. The family says there was no indication anywhere that they were not allowed to be in the area.

In recent weeks hundreds of Canadians have also been fined for breaking public health orders, most of them for not following social distancing rules.

Source: Double standard: Trudeau violates social distancing rules

And the similar if not plagiarized one by Brian Lilley:

Justin Trudeau showed once again on Easter weekend that he doesn’t play by the same rules as everyone else, not even the rules he tell us to follow.

It was just last Friday that the PM was telling the whole country during his daily address that you couldn’t go see family for Easter.

“This weekend is going to be very different. You’ll have to stay home. You’ll have to Skype that big family dinner and the Easter egg hunt,” Trudeau said, standing outside of Rideau Cottage on the grounds of Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

That statement was followed up by this one.

“During the long weekend, we will all have to stay home. We cannot have gatherings for dinner and we’ll have to be creative to organize an Easter egg hunt inside the house,” Trudeau said.

So what did he do this weekend?

He got in his motorcade, with his full entourage, on Saturday afternoon and drove to the PM’s summer residence at Harrington Lake. From one cottage to the other, it is about 27 kilometers, it crosses a provincial boundary and goes through at least three municipalities.

In other words, Trudeau did exactly the opposite of what he, his own medical experts and the premiers of Ontario and Quebec have been saying. Ontario’s Doug Ford and Quebec’s Francois Legault have told people not to go to the cottage and to stay in our primary residence.

This is all part of flattening the curve we are told and making sure we don’t spread the virus. Quebec has even imposed travel restrictions within the province and for more than a week now, people trying to cross from Ottawa into Gatineau have been turned back unless they are essential workers.

No visiting the cottage, no shopping, no visiting family, no going on a drive through Gatineau Park. If you don’t live there, you are turned back.

Trudeau lives by different rules, though.

In normal times I would get this. I don’t begrudge him the fact that he travels with a big entourage; I get that being PM carries risks most of us can’t dream of. That said, these are not normal times.

Most of us would have loved to have visited family this weekend but we didn’t. We stayed home.

My parents are a short drive away and yet I have not seen them since they got back from Florida more than three weeks ago and I won’t see them soon.

Health officials warn against visiting anyone that you don’t already live with.

We are told time and again, including by Trudeau, that these are the sacrifices we have to make to fight COVID-19. On Saturday — just before he hopped in the motorcade and broke all the rules — Trudeau invoked the sacrifice of the men at Vimy Ridge to encourage us all to follow the rules.

Then he went to the cottage to see his wife and kids who have been living there for weeks and guess what, they had a big Easter egg hunt outside and posted it on social media.

At times like this, we need leaders who will lead by example; this weekend, Trudeau was not that leader.

He was showing he doesn’t follow the rules he sets for the little people and by posting the photos online, he and his family were openly mocking us.

Source: LILLEY: Trudeau’s cottage visit mocks us and the rules he sets

The one column by Ryan Tumulty who at least gives both equal treatment:

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer brought his wife, Jill, and five children to Ottawa aboard a small government jet, along with two other MPs, during a time when health authorities are encouraging people to keep socially distant.

The government has dispatched planes to pick up MPs in western Canada to allow them to attend the House of Commons in person for emergency votes that have taken place since the Commons stopped sitting in mid-March.

As the CBC first reported, the flight aboard the nine-seat Challenger jet picked up Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May and Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough in British Columbia, before collecting Scheer in Regina along with his wife and children.

Public health officials across Canada have encouraged everyone to stay home due to the crisis and to avoid all non-essential travel and keep a two-metre distance from others.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also travelled over the weekend, heading to Harrington Lake, which is about 25 kilometres from his home, Rideau Cottage, in Ottawa.

Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, posted a photo online of the prime minister and his three children on Sunday at the cottage.

Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has discouraged people from going to their cottage properties.

“Urban dwellers should avoid heading to rural properties, as these places have less capacity to manage COVID-19,” she said in early April.

Meanwhile, May confirmed every seat on the Challenger plane was full once Scheer’s family boarded, but she said everyone did their best to limit potential spread.

“I wore my mask. I kept the best distance I could keep under the circumstances,” she said.

May said she was extraordinarily grateful to be offered a seat on the flight, because otherwise, even after driving to Vancouver, she would have had to board multiple commercial flights.

“It was still going to be three airports going through Vancouver, going through Toronto to get to Ottawa.“

She said she was offered the flight by the government and initially told it would be her, Qualtrough and Scheer on board. May said afterwards she was given the chance to object when Scheer asked to bring his family, but she understood where they were coming from.

May said the deciding factor was knowing that if Mrs. Scheer and the children were not allowed onboard they would have had to make their way to Ottawa by commercial flights.

“It is a personal family decision. I am not going to put myself in their shoes,” she said.

Scheer’s spokesperson Denise Siele said the trip made more sense than other possible options.

“This one way trip resulted in less travel than Mr. Scheer flying back and forth every time the House sits, or flying the entire family on commercial flights through multiple airports,” she said in an email.

She said the Scheer family would now be remaining in Ottawa.

“After spending several weeks in Regina over the March break, Mr. Scheer and his family will be based out of Ottawa for the rest of the spring session.”

Simon Ross, a spokesperson for the Government House Leader, said the government has sent several flights to bring MPs and senators to Ottawa for emergency sittings.

“During these exceptional circumstances brought on by pandemic, when possible the Government has sought to accommodate government aircraft requests from MPs and Senators.”

May said she returned home on the government plane Saturday, after the house rose, with only her and Qualtrough on board.

Source: Government’s COVID-19 rules don’t seem to apply to Andrew Scheer and Justin Trudeau