If ever a picture was worth more than a thousand words, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provided the ultimate value-enhancing photo opportunity today when he was asked by a CTV News Channel reporter to comment on the turmoil happening across his country’s Southern border and the actions of the American president in confronting the crisis.
“You’ve been reluctant to comment on the words and actions of the U.S. president,” the reporter began his question, “but we do have Donald Trump now calling for military action against protestors.”
“We saw protestors tear-gassed yesterday to make way for a presidential photo op,” the journalist continued. “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’s message was far from loud, but extremely clear, as he stared blinking silently and licking his lips as the cameras rolled.
The prime minister of Canada… pic.twitter.com/ok8Cr0cwBg
— Robert Costa (@costareports) June 2, 2020
One could interpret the Canadian Prime Minister’s initial reluctance to answer as extreme diplomatic restraint akin to not taunting a rabid wolverine that is destroying your next-door neighbor’s already ramshackle backyard for concern that any intervention would only make the vicious animal even angrier and the situation worse.
Or one could interpret Trudeau’s long silence as a protest against the very idea of Trump being considered a world leader in the same elite class as former US presidents and other government officials worldwide.
Perhaps he was merely trying to figure out what the best way to phrase his thoughts, but after a loooong pause, Trudeau finally found what he wanted to say:
“We all watch in horror and consternation at what is going on in the United States,” he said. “It is a time to pull people together … it is a time to listen. It is a time to learn, when injustices continue despite progress over years and decades.”
As much a Trudeau’s comments on the American president’s shameful actions yesterday are a meaningful rebuke from a neighboring leader, they mean much less than his defiant stand against Trump’s attempts to strongarm the other members of the global G-7 summit to reinvite Russia to the group’s annual meeting despite their being kicked out of the then-G-8 because of their illegal invasion of Crimea and its annexation from Ukraine.
“Russia was excluded from the G-7 after it invaded Crimea a number of years ago, and its continued disrespect and flaunting of international rules and norms is why it remains outside of the G-7, and it will continue to remain out,” Trudeau said during his daily news conference yesterday.
“The G-7 has always been a place for frank conversations with allies and friends who share so much. That’s certainly what I’m hoping to continue to see,” the Canadian Prime Minister said.
This year’s G-7 summit, originally scheduled to be held in the U.S. in June, was forced to be postponed after German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed concerns about attending a summit in a country with an uncontrolled COVID-19 epidemic and the largest number of coronavirus cases in the world.
If Trump continues to hold power for much longer, the group, rather than being expanded to include Russia and Australia as Trump has demanded, may soon become the G-6.
After Trump was accused by American Civil Liberties Union of “grossly unjustified use of a chemical weapon on protesters” that “raises serious human rights concerns under international law” for his sending police to tear-gas peaceful protestors for the sake of a hypocritical photo op in front of a church he doesn’t attend, holding a Bible that he doesn’t comprehend – in the unlikely event that he has ever read it — perhaps silence, and becoming an international pariah in the eyes of the world’s real leaders, is the only proper response.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.