Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau left many of us gobsmacked this week when he denounced China for its crackdown on protesters. Many of us denounced Trudeau for his authoritarian crackdown on truckers protesting Canada’s Covid policies. Trudeau used terrorist laws to freeze bank accounts, treat truckers as terrorists, and treat trucks as effective weapons. This is a continuation of Trudeau’s utter lack of self-awareness (and the media continuing lack of objectivity). He previously was praised for his stance against Cuba’s crackdown on protesters.
Trudeau told the media Tuesday, “Obviously everyone in China should be allowed to express themselves, should be allowed to, you know, share their — their perspectives, and indeed protest. We’re going to continue to ensure that China knows we’ll stand up for human rights, we’ll stand with people who are expressing themselves.”
That is coming from the man who invoked the 1988 Emergencies Act for the first time to freeze accounts of truckers and contributions by other Canadian citizens. It was entirely unnecessary and, while the media is largely supportive of Trudeau, the powers have been condemned by civil liberties groups in Canada.
The 1988 law is meant to address the greatest national threats when existing laws are insufficient. However, there are ample laws allowing the clearing of roads and bridges. Trudeau is using the Act to intimidate not just the truckers but anyone who supports them. That includes sending lists of names to banks for accounts to be frozen and going to court to prevent donations from reaching the truckers.
Ironically, it was Trudeau’s father, who used the predecessor to the Act for the first time in peacetime to suspend civil liberties. Former prime minister Pierre Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act on Oct. 16, 1970, after separatist terrorists calling themselves the Front de libération du Québec kidnapped British Trade Commissioner James Cross and Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte. The prior Act had never been used in peacetime and only twice before during prior wars.
Justin Trudeau, like his father, has never been a strong supporter of free speech. Indeed, he has more often championed its limitations. He previously declared that “freedom of expression is not without limits . . . we owe it to ourselves to act with respect for others and to seek not to arbitrarily or unnecessarily injure those with whom we are sharing a society and a planet.”
He has long been criticized for his anti-free speech policies, including his move to amend the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act to criminalize any “communication that expresses detestation or vilification of an individual or group of individuals on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.” That regulation of speech was criticized for its vague terms to prevent “social media platforms, [from being] used to threaten, intimidate, bully and harass people, or used to promote racist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, misogynistic and homophobic views that target communities, put people’s safety at risk and undermine Canada’s social cohesion or democracy.”
Having Justice Trudeau speak out on the protection of free speech is akin to Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud speaking out on the protection of the free press … it is simply not his strong suit.