(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)

Justin Trudeau has a habit of putting his foot in his mouth and saying silly and embarrassing things.

Last weekend, however, when he praised Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, Trudeau didn’t just embarrass himself. He embarrassed all Canadians.

In a statement that claimed to speak on behalf of all of us, Trudeau sent a message that is counter to our way of life, our principles and the very heart of Canadian identity.

He praised the communist dictator, and called him a “remarkable leader.” He said Castro was “a larger than life leader,” and wrongly stated that “even detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people.”

Trudeau’s fawning over Castro was quickly repudiated and condemned by voices across the political spectrum and around the world.

When news broke of Castro’s death last weekend, I went to the Miami neighbourhood of Little Havana – the largest Cuban diaspora community in the world. I saw first-hand how Cuban-Americans celebrated the end of Castro’s wicked life.

I spoke to a woman whose family had their property seized when Castro took power in 1959. Her husband was forced to do manual labour on a farm, despite having had a successful career in business.

I spoke to another man whose brother was arrested and killed by a firing squad. He was never charged or convicted of a crime, his family was never told why he was killed.

I spoke to a man who came to Florida as a ten-month old. His mother packed up the family in the middle of the night and they fled Cuba on a rickety old boat.

“He was a monster, he was a tyrant, a criminal and a communist, and my people have been suffering (from) him for 57 years,” said Emilio, a Cuban-born exile living in Miami.

The messages I heard were consistent, and they were clear. Fidel Castro is finally dead, and both Cubans and freedom-loving people all over the world have cause for hope and celebration.

Castro was one of the few remaining communist dictators, left over from one of the darkest chapters in human history. His regime was responsible for tens of thousands of deaths, hundreds of thousands of exiles and millions of lives ruined.

It’s no surprise that the Cubans I spoke with had such harsh words for…(READ MORE)