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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Editorial: Cheers and jeers for PM

  • June 15, 2023

Prime Minister Trudeau merits mixed reviews for his multi-role performance last week as road warrior, marital warrior and culture warrior.  The last of these might leave at least some Catholics wondering if it’s past time for him to exit stage left.

Generally speaking, the PM acquitted himself well when he popped up in Kyiv on an unannounced visit to shake the spear at invading Russians, and bury the Ukrainian people in praise for their stalwart stand against Moscow.

“You are the tip of the spear that is determining the future of the 21st century,” Canada’s Prime Minister told national legislators at a special session of the country’s parliament.

His stentorian phrasing, and a pledge of $500 million to further the war effort, will no doubt earn him enduring acclaim from his audience in the homeland and the diaspora. Properly so, whatever cheap-seat critics here on the homefront might say about the need to shower some of those shekels on Canada’s own thread bare military.

It was gratifying to see a True North leader at long last stand on a global platform — smack in the middle of a theatre of war — defending what surely meets the test of Catholic Just War theory. Yes, some will carp that Trudeau’s appearance in Ukraine’s capital was ever-so coincidental. It coincided, after all, with his disappearance from Ottawa the very day his appointed special rapporteur, David Johnston, fell on his sword and resigned over the federal election interference scandal. But in politics, as in high school drama productions, the show must go on even if it means abandoning lifelong family friends to their humiliating fate.

Where he deserves cheers for his championing of war-torn Ukraine, however, Canada’s prime minister warrants an unabashed thumbs down for his blunderbuss attack on the New Brunswick government’s plan to re-draft its policy on sexual and gender diversity curriculum in public schools.

Reasonable people can debate particulars of the changes proposed by Premier Blaine Higgs’ attempt to redress the balance between the demands of sexual diversity advocates and pushback from parents  wanting more control over what their children are taught. The PM’s verbal invasion of provincial jurisdiction, launched from the political safety of a Pride event in Toronto, was nothing of that.

“Far-right political actors are trying to outdo themselves with the types of cruelty and isolation they can inflict on these already vulnerable people,” he said in a speech to TO’s the Rainbow Railroad Freedom Party. “Right now, trans kids in New Brunswick are being told they don’t have the right to be their true selves, that they need to ask permission.”

The statement is factually wrong. The New Brunswick policy isn’t just about permission. It’s about family involvement. And in what theatre of the absurd mindscape could parental involvement in educating children about choosing massive pharmaceutical and surgical gender transformation be deemed verboten as a “far right” political act?

There’s a thin red line between playing to an audience and pandering to its divisive instincts. Whether Trudeau crossed it with his rhetorical and tonal overkill is for voters to decide. But Catholic voters who parse it might fear its blast radius threatens to afflict the clergy and the faithful who defend Holy Mother Church’s teachings on sexual and gender issues.  They might ponder whether the PM’s show of mixing defence and the indefensible is now running more than a little too long.

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