Editorial: Tiptoeing around Trump

Published on February 3, 2017

KT editorial cartoon, The Telegram Feb. 3, 2017

©Kevin Tobin

U.S. President Donald Trump’s volatile and unpredictable nature is already having a worrisome impact in Canada.

And it appears Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is more concerned with avoiding confrontation than reinforcing our country’s ideals.

When Trump announced a week ago that he was imposing a 90-day ban on immigrants and refugees from seven largely Muslim nations, it seemed like a perfect opportunity for Canada to step forward as a shining beacon of sanctuary and hope.

If the U.S. didn’t want refugees, many of whom had spent years being vetted, then Canada certainly could admit them. In fact, many regions of this country, especially Atlantic Canada, would welcome them with open arms. A year ago, Canada was busy resettling thousands of Syrian refugees. We are ready to do it again.

To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength. #WelcomeToCanada. Tweet from PM Justin Trudeau

You can hardly escape the irony — Trump’s ban portrays people fleeing terror and persecution as potential terrorists. They left war-torn countries to escape death and persecution, only to find the door to freedom suddenly slammed in their faces.

And many people affected by the ban are not refugees. They are students, scientists, scholars and other professionals. They would have an immediate and positive impact in Canada.

We have an opportunity to perform an act of human compassion and decency here that could have immeasurable benefits for this country. Canada could expand immigration limits and fast-track applications, but so far we’ve heard none of this from our PM.

Instead, Trudeau resorted to Twitter to comment on the draconian ban that sent shockwaves around the world.

“To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength. #WelcomeToCanada.”

And that was it.

At best, it was a non-committal response to a harsh decree.

It’s obvious Trudeau doesn’t want to attract negative attention from the new U.S. administration. Clearly Trump wouldn't be happy if his controversial efforts to block refugees from entering the U.S. were circumvented by them ending up just north of his border. Canada would then become an irritant, and that is something Trudeau wants to avoid.

Until NAFTA and pipelines are addressed, it is apparent that Canada’s approach will be to tread lightly and carefully with Trump. So far, the two leaders have only exchanged brief phone calls. Until a relationship is established, don’t expect Trudeau to upset the apple cart.

The Liberal government, for now at least, seems intent on putting economic factors ahead of principles.

Well, consequences be damned. Canada has to stand up for what’s right. This country cannot sacrifice its ideals, nor give in to fear and hate, particularly in the wake of the terrorist atrocity at the Quebec City mosque.

We shouldn’t go looking for a fight with Trump, but we mustn’t run away from one either.