Can calling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a "white supremacist terrorist" be justified?
Black Lives Matter Toronto spokesperson Yusra Khogali's description of Justin Trudeau as a "white supremacist terrorist" at a recent rally against Islamophobia has sparked significant backlash. Right-wing media have cited her language to attack a group that's put the police on the back foot while liberal commentators have called on Khogali to "resign" from BLM. A number of individuals labelled Khogali's comments about the prime minister "hate speech."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (Photo: Chris Wattie/Reuters)
Fortunately, Chuck D of Public Enemy took to Twitter to push back against calls for Khogali to resign while a Toronto Now piece by Shantal Otchere defended the "white supremacist" part of Khogali's statement. The case for labelling our handsome PM a "terrorist" may be less solid, but it's worth exploring.
Here's the Canadian Criminal Code definition of terrorist activity.
In the only effort to justify the "terrorist" tag on Trudeau I've seen, on Facebook Daniel Tseghay pointed to the PM's arming of Saudi Arabia's monarchy, which is clearly intentionally causing death and serious bodily harm by use of violence in Yemen (not to mention sections of its own population). Not only has the Canadian Commercial Corporation signed a $15-billion Light Armoured Vehicle contract with the reactionary regime, Canadians are also training the Saudis to use the vehicles, sold Riyadh other arms and has backed them diplomatically.
Members of the Saudi army are seen deployed along the Saudi border with Yemen April 21, 2015. (Photo: Stringer/Reuters)
In another part of the Middle East, a Canadian fighter jet reportedly killed 10 and injured 20 Iraqi civilians on Nov. 19, 2015. While the Trudeau government later withdrew Canadian bombers, two Canadian reconnaissance aircraft and an in-air refuelling tanker are still part of the Iraq/Syria mission, which is bombing without Damascus' permission.
The Trudeau government also tripled the number of Canadian special forces on the ground. Two hundred highly skilled soldiers have provided training, weaponry and combat support to Kurdish forces accused of ethnically cleansing areas of Iraq they've captured.
Another 200 Canadian troops are in the Ukraine backing up a force responsible for hundreds of deaths in the east of that country. While it was the previous government that dispatched these troops to the Ukraine, the Trudeau government is ramping up Canada's military presence in the region. Four hundred and fifty troops will soon be part of a Canadian-led battle group in Latvia, and up to a half dozen CF-18 fighter jets are on their way to the region, which is partly designed to embolden far-right militarists in the Ukraine.
Canadian military instructors and Ukrainian servicemen take part in a military exercise at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center in Yavoriv, Ukraine, July 12, 2016. (Photo: Gleb Garanich/Reuters)
Do any of these activities constitute "terrorism?" There are certainly decent arguments to be made.
And, while it's unclear whether Trudeau merits the "terrorist" label 16 months into his term, history suggests it may well fit before he leaves office.
Trudeau's Liberal predecessor, Paul Martin, is an excellent candidate for the "T" tag because of his role in overthrowing Haitian democracy and supporting a coup regime responsible for thousands of deaths and rapes. For two years, a Canada-financed, trained and overseen Haitian police force terrorized Port-au-Prince's slums with Canadian diplomatic and (for half a year) military backing.
While the "terrorist" label may seem shocking, an activist's strong language directed at the PM is jarring at worst.
By delivering Washington's bombing threats to the North Vietnamese leadership, another Liberal prime minister also arguably warrants the "T" label. In addition, Lester Pearson had Canadian International Control Commission officials spy on the North for the U.S.; OKed chemical weapon (Agent Orange, Purple and Blue) testing in Canada; and provided various other forms of support to Washington's terror campaign in Indochina.
One could also make the case that former Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent deserved the "T" tag for dispatching 27,000 troops to a war in Korea that left up to four million dead. At one point the U.S.-led forces stopped bombing the North when they determined no building over one story was still standing.
While the "terrorist" label may seem shocking, an activist's strong language directed at the PM is jarring at worst. Sanctimonious commentators who constantly rush to defend power, on the other hand, allow prime ministers to get away with activities that arguably meet the definition of terrorism.
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