Canadians across the political spectrum reacted with shock to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s disrespectful response to a First Nations protester who disrupted a pricey Liberal fundraiser in Toronto on Wednesday night.
“Mr. Trudeau, people at Grassy Narrows are suffering from mercury poisoning. You committed to addressing this crisis,” a woman said about the much-discussed issue before being led out of the room.
Trudeau’s response made jaws drop: “Thank you for being here, thank you for your donation tonight. I really appreciate it,” he said. The audience applauds and laughs. Then another protester, a man, starts saying something similar. Trudeau then doubles down and repeats the line.
It’s been quite reasonably viewed as a deeply disrespectful response.
Trudeau could have simply nodded and waited for her to leave. He could have said something about how the issue is an important one, while simultaneously making it clear he wanted to get on with the fundraiser. But no, instead he mocks her to her face.
Also, let’s be clear, the protester was nowhere near as outrageous as a lot of the people who have disrupted events by Trudeau and other leading politicians. She wasn’t screaming out rude names, she didn’t appear to be going on for all that long and she was bringing up a legitimate issue that people have raw and sincere emotions about.
Was it fair to ask her to leave? Of course. But it was handled entirely the wrong way. And now the hashtag #ThankYouForYourDonation is trending online.
On Thursday morning Trudeau apologized and appeared quite earnest. This was the right thing to do.
It still leaves you wondering though whether the Trudeau on Wednesday night was the real Trudeau, a look behind the curtain at how he really thinks in these sorts of situations – that whenever someone shows they’re not entirely on board with his shtick, he lashes out at them in an immature way.
A wide array of people have weighed in on this and you better believe First Nations activists aren’t happy with him.
That’s a lot of communities who Trudeau has managed to offend in recent weeks.
For a while now the military and veterans circles have been turning on Trudeau as they learn more about the Vice Admiral Mark Norman saga. Thousands of Canadians have already contributed to his legal defense fund and many people view the criminal trial as completely unreasonable mistreatment of an honourable man who has done nothing wrong.
Then there is the latest snafu with Lavscam, where a leaked story about Jody Wilson-Raybould and Trudeau supposedly disagreeing over the potential appointment of Justice Glenn Joyal to the Supreme Court has angered the legal community. The Manitoba Bar Association has called the leak “appalling”.
Many consider it – like with the Norman case – an unjust smear of a credible person, all without evidence.
That’s quite the unenviable hat trick Trudeau and the Liberals have managed to score. Three different communities of people upset at the government in a short period of time. It makes you wonder who will be next.