At a “ladies night” fundraiser in Toronto in 2013, an up-and-coming politician was asked which nation’s administration he admired most in the world.
Wearing a pale blue shirt and a smile, the fresh-faced Liberal Party leader answered Communist China.
“There is a level of admiration I actually have for China because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to actually turn their economy around on a dime and say we need to go green, we need to start, you know, investing in solar,” Justin Trudeau told the group of women. “There is a flexibility that I know [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper must dream about: having a dictatorship where you can do whatever you wanted, that I find quite interesting.”
The comments drew fire, particularly from Canadians who noted China’s oppressive regime and documented human rights abuses.
“It seems to be that he’s not well-informed,” a member of a round-table told the CBC.
Nevertheless, the comments proved to be little more than a speed bump in Trudeau’s political ascent. In November 2015, Trudeau was sworn in as Canada’s twenty-third prime minister, succeeding Harper.
“There is a level of admiration I actually have for China because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to actually turn their economy around on a dime…having a dictatorship where you can do whatever you wanted, that I find quite interesting.”
— Jon Miltimore (@miltimore79) February 15, 2022
Throwing ‘Oil on the Fire’
Trudeau’s comments deserve scrutiny since he now finds himself in the global spotlight.
On Monday, Trudeau announced he was activating rarely used emergency powers in an effort to suppress the Freedom Convoy, a movement originally created to protest vaccination mandates for truckers crossing the US border that has morphed into a broader protest against COVID restrictions.
“The blockades are harming our economy and endangering public safety,” Trudeau said in a news conference. “We cannot and will not allow illegal and dangerous activities to continue.”
By invoking Canada’s Emergencies Act—which in 1988 replaced the War Measures Act—Trudeau can use federal law enforcement to assist provincial governments and expand its search and seizure of private goods that sustain the protest movement.
“We are making these changes because we know that these (crowdfunding) platforms are being used to support illegal blockades and illegal activity which is damaging the Canadian economy,” said Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, who used the word “terrorism” in her comments.