Listen Up! Trudeau needs to stop being Canada’s Apologist-in-Chief

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Hugh Mackenzie
Huntsville Doppler

The Sins of our Fathers

It has taken me a generation or so, but I am finally ready to admit that I agree with something said by former Prime Minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau. He said:

“I do not think the purpose of government is to right the past. It cannot rewrite history. It is our purpose to be just in our time”.

Obviously, this sentiment was not passed down from father to son because Justin Trudeau, our current Prime Minister, seems to enjoy his role as Canada’s Apologist-in-Chief.

There is no question that there are elements of our history for which there is no reason to be proud. Nation building is an incremental process where circumstances and ethical and moral standards have changed as generations evolved. Although unquestionably, serious mistakes were made along the way, we cannot change history and there are consequences for apologizing for the sins of our fathers.

There is a difference between regretting an action of others and apologizing for it. We can acknowledge that some parts of our history were wrong, without taking personal ownership of it. I do not believe you can apologize for the actions of someone else. In my view, an apology is personal. It means you take responsibility for an action, with all that this entails, including possible compensation. In many cases, it is also difficult to judge actions of a century or so ago, based on standards of today.

Since he became Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau has been an apologist for Canada. He has apologized for discrimination by former governments, of the LGBTQ community, for residential school survivors, for the execution of six First nations Chiefs, for public sector workers whose careers were destroyed due to their sexual orientation. He has apologized for turning away a shipload of immigrants from India in 1914 and he has recently said he intends to apologize on the floor of the House of Commons for a 1939 decision to turn away a ship and deny refugee status to 900 German Jews, some of whom subsequently became holocaust victims. And on it goes. All of this is a sad part of our history that cannot be changed with an apology.

Craig Oliver, a veteran political analyst, who often displays Liberal leanings, said on a news program today, that Trudeau is apologizing too much. I agree with him. An apology is much more than a photo-op or chance to win political favour with a particular group of people. As CTV’s Don Martin said recently, “Trudeau has raised the act of getting all misty-eyed and remorseful in front of the cameras to an art form.”

But apologies come with consequences. When you apologize, you accept responsibility and when you do that, you often end up in Court. It is inevitable that someone will seek damages. If you doubt that, just ask Omar Khadr who has ten million reasons to be happy with the apology he got from the Trudeau government.

Rather than constantly looking back at the muddy part of Canada’s past, and some of it is muddy indeed, surely it is much more important to look at who we are today. Canada is admired as one of the best places in the world to live. We prosper here, and for all of their flaws, we have much to thank our forefathers (and mothers) for that reality.

That is not to say that this generation is without our own flaws. We have much work to do to really ensure equality for all people regardless of their race or gender or sexuality. We live in turbulent times where racism, intolerance, and terrorism still exist. One wonders what future generations will say about us.

As for Mr. Trudeau, if he really wants to apologize, he might think about some of the actions of his own government; a deficit more than twice the size he promised, a trillion dollars in debt for future generations to pay and discrimination against people and organizations who do not hold the same views as his government on social issues, to name but a few.

We cannot rewrite history and we cannot undo the mistakes of the past no matter how much we apologize for them. What we can do, is to heed the words of Pierre Elliott Trudeau and make it our purpose to be just in our time.

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30 Comments

  1. Good work Hugh!
    If Trudeau the younger were to apologize for the mistakes his government has made and the devastating harm he has done to our economy present and future he would be on his feet for a month!
    I detest prime ministers apologizing “on behalf of all Canadians”.
    He can apologize for himself all he likes but he does not speak for me.

    • A spot on comment regarding our fraudulent, drama queen prime minister. Me-I just plain detest the man himself.

  2. Bill Beatty on

    We have an exceptional Apologist leading the Gov’t of Ontario…..Must be part of leadership courses for Grit would be politicians ,

    • Apologizing for the supposed sins of Western nations is part of Globalism 101 for the Neoliberals in Europe and N. America. Obama went all over the world doing mea culpas for the U.S. Apologies from those who weren’t even alive when regrettable actions have been taken by those of the past, is meaningless. It is worse than meaningless when it serves to fuel the bitter and sometimes violent hatred of Western nations among those who refuse to forgive. Are we not only going to saddle our children and grandchildren with enormous debts but also burden them with false guilt? Globalist neoliberalism is full of this kind of nonsensical foolishness.

        • Dictionary.com defines it as: “The attitude or policy of placing the interests of the entire world above those of individual nations.”

          As such, it undermines national sovereignty as well as the guarantee of the rights of individuals under various national constitutions.

          • Karen Wehrstein on

            The definition you cite certainly doesn’t justify your constant vilification of globalism. I think you have another definition you are not sharing with us. A clue to what it is is given by the fact that others I’ve seen vilifying the word ‘globalism’ are from the extreme right wing including supporters or agents of Trump or Putin.
            .
            National sovereignty is not being threatened by anyone placing the needs of the entire world above those of individual nations. It is being threatened by people putting their personal interests above those of the entire world, individual nations and individual people. I mentioned two such persons above. Corruption has always been around, and honest people have always fought against it. What is new is corruption becoming multinational through modern technology, and corruption in the form of transnational organized crime has gained power at the expense of democracy and the rule of law in multiple countries.
            .
            See here: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/administration/eop/nsc/transnational-crime/threat
            .
            It has become increasingly clear that Trump was placed in the Oval Office by Putin, who is basically a mob boss with a nuclear power as one of his properties. See here: https://www.burr.senate.gov/press/releases/senate-intel-completes-review-of-intelligence-community-assessment-on-russian-activities-in-the-2016-us-elections
            .
            It’s no surprise then that Trump is attempting to weaken the defenses against cyberwarfare of HIS OWN NATION. See here: https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/trump-dumps-cybersecurity-tsar-role/ .
            .
            This sort of thing is the true threat. Vilifying “globalism” is just done to sow confusion.

      • Terry McCaffery on

        “Apologies from those who weren’t even alive when regrettable actions have been taken by those of the past, is meaningless.” Really???

        On June 22, 2006, then Prime Minister Stephen Harper stood in the Parliament of Canada and delivered a sincere, heartfelt apology. He concluded his apology in Cantonese: “Gana daai dee heep” “Canada Apologizes”. This apology was for the notorious Head Tax imposed on Chinese immigrants coming into the country. The Chinese Immigration Act as it was called was enacted in 1885 and abolished in 1923.

        From the late 1870’s until 1885 more than 15,000 labourers from China were brought over to Canada to complete the perilous work of tunnelling the CPR rail line through the mountains of BC. More than 1000 perished in this very dangerous task! The CPR rail line was completed in 1885 and the Chinese labourers were no longer needed. By far the majority of these labourers stayed in Canada and intended to bring their families over to start a new life in Canada. The BC provincial government attempted to enact its own head tax on Chinese immigrants but it was overruled by the Canadian government as immigration was solely under federal jurisdiction. British Columbia did not want any more Chinese immigration and at its behest, the Canadian government imposed a Head Tax of $50 for every Chinese immigrant coming into Canada. In 1903, the Head tax amount was increased to the enormous sum of $500 per person. Back then this amount of money would have purchased two houses. The average wage of a Chinese Canadian circa 1900 was about $300 per year-after living expenses about $50.00 of disposable income. The Canadian Government at this time was actively enticing European immigration with free land grants to help settle the western and prairie provinces. The Chinese Immigration Act was blatantly racist. At this time Chinese Canadians could not vote, could not hold elected office, could not practice law or medicine, could not be employed in any government works or purchase Crown land. A 1922 census in BC revealed that the ratio of Chinese Canadian men to Chinese Canadian women was 28:1. The Chinese Immigration Act was abolished in 1923 and was replaced with the Chinese Exclusion Act which effectively stopped all Chinese immigration until 1947. The exceptions to this were diplomats, students and special cases.

        It took over 60 years of lobbying by a variety of Chinese Canadian organizations to finally receive an official apology from the Canadian Government. At the time of Prime Minister Harper’s apology there were only 20 original Head Tax payers and 200 spouses of payers still alive. Was the Prime Minister’s apology meaningless to these few survivors of a shameful period in Canadian history? I don’t think so!!!

        • No matter whether a Liberal does it or a Conservative, it is still meaningless–my opinion, sorry. Unless the perpetrators are the ones to do the apology and unless they apologize to the actual victims, it is nice, but seems like so much silly posturing. Were I a descendant of a holocaust victim, I would be unmoved by an apology from Angela Merkel. Merkel wasn’t even born until 1954–nearly a decade after the atrocities of WWII Germany.

          • Terry McCaffery on

            I totally disagree with you! An apology is better than no apology for past wrongs. In the case which I cited, Mr. Harper apologized on behalf of the Canadian Government for actions perpetrated by the Canadian Government almost a century ago. His apology was to those few individuals still living who were the target of this racist policy. They accepted and appreciated his apology-something you obviously would not have done!

  3. Len Macdonald on

    I totally agree with you, Hugh. Americans tease us about our overuse of the word “sorry.” We would apologize to a telephone pole if we walked into one by accident. Time for our PM to say “that was then, this is now” – no apology necessary.

    • I agree, Len. The fact of the matter is that the Western nations have been as well-behaved as any set of nations has ever been. This is especially true of Canada, which has been seen as one of the great peace-making nations. Canada is also seen as a compassionate and generous nation–established in a long tradition of caring for the poor and helpless around the world, as has been the case with Americans as well. The Christian traditions on which the Western nations were founded have caused them to surpass all other non-Christian nations in taking on the burden of standing for the innocent. We would try, in vain, to name a non-Western nation whose record of human rights abuses are so small. Human rights abuses are just part of the fabric of life in non-Western nations. If it weren’t so, why would the people of those nations strive so hard to get to the West? Do all in the West share the values of decency, honesty and caring for the disadvantaged? No. But, anyone who has been to a Third World or developing nation, can tell you that human rights abuses are just part of the fabric of daily living there.

      • Karen Wehrstein on

        This comment seems intended to promote religious prejudice and racism, and pretends that colonialism — the means by which wealth was forcefully extracted from areas that now form the Third World by aggressive empires whose bases now form the developed world — involved, and continues to involve, no human rights abuses.
        .
        Human rights abuses are the same all around the world: they happen wherever the powers-that-be declare some portion of humanity as “other,” i.e. dehumanize them. West or Third World, makes no difference.

        • Does that include you, Karen? Christianity is being demonized the world-over. Even the officially non-religious human rights group, Amnesty International says that Christians are the largest people group being persecuted and killed in officially atheist (China, Cuba and N. Korea) and especially Islamic countries. There are at least 100,000 Christian martyrs per year in those nations. The world’s media is so saturated with globalist propaganda that they refuse to cover the holocaust. When they do speak of Christians at all they label them as “racists” and “religious bigots”. Why, I wonder, do they refuse to cover the REAL racism and religious prejudice among Islamic extremists? Arab Islamic extremists are often VERY racist in their attitudes toward blacks in African countries–especially black Christians but they also despise black animists as well. Ever heard of the Janjaweed? “Dehumanization” of black Christians and animists reaches a whole new level in the places where virtual genocide is taking place. Yet, no one outside of a few missionaries and Christian organizations mention it.

          • Karen Wehrstein on

            For those playing at home, this is referred to as a straw-man argument: a rebuttal to an argument that the other person never made to suggest they did.

            And Erin continues to dehumanize.

          • Karen Wehrstein on

            Something else, Erin — please source your claims. I am familiar with Cuba, having traveled there, and observed Christian churches open for worship, and people freely worshipping. I have never traveled to China, but am aware that the government is opposed to organized religion generally, including Tibetan Buddhism and Falun Gong. Interested to see some credible sources for your claims.

  4. I have relatives/friends in many countries and Trudeau is the joke of choice.
    I’m sorry, forgive me, some crying maybe. We are not your enemy. We accept terrorists.
    We do not have the power to stop anyone from just walking into Canada and staying.
    He makes himself and all Canadian’s looks like children.

  5. Karen Wehrstein on

    I would be interested to see a counterpoint commentary on this from someone, or someones, Jewish, Muslim, First Nations and/or LGBTQ. It would only be fair.
    .
    The argument that Trudeau shouldn’t apologize for actions that neither he himself nor anyone else living committed arises from a fundamental lack of understanding of the nature of his position. You would agree, surely, Hugh, that Canada is a going concern as a nation, with an unbroken national identity and history since 1867? That it is bigger than any one person, even if he is Prime Minister? Trudeau is not apologizing on his own behalf, of course not, and it’s silly for anyone to think he is. He is apologizing on behalf of the nation of Canada, which existed when the wrongs were done and still does.
    .
    Further, he is apologizing on behalf of living people who are still benefiting from the past wrongs, to people who are still suffering from them. Unless you are First Nations, the land your house is on was taken away by force or trickery from people who were already using it. If we’re not going to give it back, the least we can do is apologize. The aftereffects for descendants of Holocaust survivors has had have been studied and identified by psychologists. Two of your examples — LGBTQ discrimination and Omar Khadr — don’t even belong in this “sins of the fathers” argument, because they involve both perpetrators and victims who are still living, and the victims continue to suffer firsthand.
    .
    I wonder if you, Hugh, and agreeing commenters don’t at heart want Canada to apologize to anyone at all, even if we did do them wrong… because to apologize is to admit wrongdoing, and you don’t want Canada to be seen as having done any wrong at all.
    .
    As if any nation can claim that.
    .
    If you, or that which you represent, *did* do wrong, however — however much right you have done — it is weakness, not strength, to refuse to admit it, and worse weakness, not strength, to do nothing about it for the sake of those who are still suffering. It takes courage to fess up and apologize, and if you don’t, you are lacking it. It is what a good person does, and what a good country does.
    .
    So why the reluctance? Tell me, Hugh, are the victims — the First Nations people, the Jews, the Indians, the LGBTQ people, the Muslims — not people? Are they incapable of suffering, including down the generations for a crime against them severe enough to cause multi-generational damage? Or is their suffering somehow less important than yours? Are they not equal to you by the fact of being human?
    .
    And if they are human and therefore equal, and you are a proud Canadian, is your pride in Canada not big enough to encompass them as humans and equals, and alleviate the suffering that remains?
    .
    Mine is, as is that of many other proud Canadians.

    • There is no such thing as a “good country”, Karen. There are only just individuals within those countries–and there were many who protested the treatment of First Nations people, at the time. Justice flows from the power of those who raise their voices to protest injustice but when their voices are drowned out by those who promote that injustice, great wrongs are often done to people groups. It has always been so and probably always will be so–the victim group of one era often become the perpetrators in another. As a case in point, the children of a number of freed and free-born American slaves returned to Africa (to Liberia) and took…you guessed it–slaves from among the indigenous “bush” people.

      • Karen Wehrstein on

        I am glad I, and most people, do not share the bleakness of your worldview.
        .
        If there is no such thing as a good country, why did you write “The fact of the matter is that the Western nations have been as well-behaved as any set of nations has ever been”?

        • To the contrary, my “worldview” is not one of “bleakness” but one of acknowledging that humans are frail and selfish creatures and no amount of the “religion” of socialism/communism does a thing to correct that nature. Marx’s partner-in-philosophical-crime, Friedrich Engels, opined on the “withering away of the state” and then their philosophy of collectivism underwrote the most oppressive series of totalitarian states ever in the history of mankind. Communists in Russia, China and Cambodia killed and persecuted their political enemies among their own countrymen to the tune of tens of millions. When I said that Western nations were the most well-behaved as any set of nations has ever been, that was NOT saying that they are “good”–just not as bad as other nations. I will attempt to address some of your points but I am limited by the fact that there is no reply button on any but this one.

          As for the accusation that I am “dehumanizing”–what does that even mean. If by that, you mean anyone who disagrees with your political persuasion, then why the implication that they are contemptible? Isn’t that a bit of “dehumanization” on your part? The charge that I am “far right” would be laughable if it wasn’t an extremely common smear from the left. I am, in actuality, what would have been considered to be “centrist” just a few years ago before the leftist globalist-owned media started waging their propaganda war against the people of the Western nations. Smearing others with unflattering terms like, “dehumanizing,” “far-right” and even more ridiculously, “an agent of Putin or Trump” are tactics straight out of “Rules for Radicals” by that old American communist, Saul Alinsky.

          I wouldn’t dream of going to all the work of “sourcing claims” for you as you will likely just reject them out of hand. It is difficult to argue against the fervent beliefs of leftists. I will say however, that your anecdotal comment on having observed Christians worshiping freely is one of having observed a “show church”. I personally know people who have smuggled Bibles into Cuba at the risk of their liberty and possibly even their lives. Here is a Wikipedia article on a group of Cuban Christian women who call themselves, “Ladies in White”. They are regularly arrested for protesting human rights abuses by the Cuban government: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladies_in_White

          Several of them were arrested this past Palm Sunday for praying and speaking in downtown Havana.

          • Karen Wehrstein on

            What I see you doing more than anything is promoting hatred of whole groups of people. This is not healthy for you or for anyone who listens to you. It also really doesn’t fit with how we do things here in Huntsville.

    • Karen Wehrstein on

      Whenever past wrongs are brought up, all sorts of emotions are going to happen, which is why people usually shove them under the rug. The urge isn’t constructive but it’s understandable.

  6. Rob Millman on

    Thank you, Karen, for your thoughtful rebuttal. Unless one does not espouse our Charter rights, how could there be a problem with compensating Mr. Kadhr: He was tortured in Guantanamo Bay, after being indoctrinated as a child soldier by his family, and allegedly killing during a war. I would hope that any Canadian would be similarly compensated in a like situation.
    .
    I have known Justin since he was a five-year-old. He was a sensitive young man, and now he is a sensitive young adult.
    .
    And Mr. Vtech, just for the record, would you rather have PM Trudeau as the joke of choice among your international friends; or President Trump. Mr. Trudeau will probably be re-elected; whereas Mr. Trump will be impeached as soon as the Democrats reclaim the House in November.

    • It remains to be seen that they will actually be able to do that, Rob. President Trump’s popularity is rising due to the beneficial effects of his administrations’s policies.

      • Bryan Schenk on

        Hugh, I have always tried to conduct my life by doing unto others in the way that I would want them to do unto me. Not “Do unto others and never apologize for anything”.

        • Terry McCaffery on

          Totally agree with you, Bryan! Apologizing is a demonstration of character and strength in an individual.

          • Terry: “…Apologizing is a demonstration of character and strength in an individual…”

            In an individual, absolutely, Terry. But apologizing for a whole country (a number of whom would have been decent and honorable people) from another time–seems just like sentimental posturing–unless the Prime Minister intends to back it up with the hard-earned funds of taxpayers.

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