Two months ago, our cousins to the north, Canada, ended the disaster known as conservative government, throwing out Prime Minister Stephen Harper along with his party and replacing them with liberals in huge numbers. Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau took the reins as Canada’s 23rd prime minister. Mr. Trudeau is already showing that under his leadership, Canada is going to be a far different country in many respects from where it was under his predecessor.
Trudeau sat down for a town hall meeting, hosted by Maclean’s, probably Canada’s most influential news magazine. Given the fact that it isn’t possible to completely divorce Canadian affairs from what is going on in the U.S., it was inevitable that the prime minister would be asked about the upcoming American election. The response given by this soft-spoken, intelligent man was the direct antithesis of the ridiculous machismo and bombast that was on display at the Republican debate on Tuesday night.
The original question, sent by a Twitter user, was about Donald Trump: “Will you stand up to Donald Trump and condemn his hateful rhetoric?” But Trudeau showed his brilliance with a reply that was a stern message not only for Trump, but also for the entire Republican Party and anybody who agrees with them.
Trudeau begins his response by saying that he wants to proceed with caution, because it would be important to Canada for him to have a “positive relationship with whoever Americans choose as their president.” But after saying that, he continues with a comment that all of the Republican presidential candidates should hear.
I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone that I stand firmly against the politics of division, the politics of fear, the politics of intolerance or hateful rhetoric.
Any modern society does best when we understand that diversity is a source of strength, not a source of weakness. That the elements on which we are similar are always far greater than the elements on which we are diverse. And if we allow politicians to succeed by scaring people, we don’t actually end up any safer. Fear doesn’t make us safer — it makes us weaker.