Editorial – Trudeau’s behavior goes south when confronted by protester

Tom Henihan

Unlike his father, Justin Trudeau’s off-hand comments are seldom witty and usually backfire, exposing the out-of-touch, coddled prince who fanaticizes about being a champion of the people.

Trudeau’s most recent faux pas happened at a $1,500 a person function for high-end Liberal donors at the Omni King Edward Hotel in Toronto..

While Trudeau was preaching to the converted at the function, a woman confronted him about the decades old issue of mercury poising on the Grassy Narrows Ojibway First Nation in northwestern Ontario.

Having unfolded a banner calling for compensation, the woman shouted, “People in Grassy Narrows are suffering from mercury poisoning. You committed to addressing this crisis.”

Trudeau responded with overwhelming arrogance and a political tin ear, saying to the woman, “Thank you for being here. Thank you very much for your donation tonight. I really appreciate the donation to the Liberal Party of Canada.”

That Trudeau’s response drew laughter and applause from the crowd is an indication of the kind of mindset one encounters in the upper echelons of the Liberal Party.

The Grassy Narrows First Nation has contended with mercury poisoning for decades, due to the Dryden Chemical Company emptying its effluent into the Wabigoon-English River system.

The Dryden Chemical Company supplied large amounts of sodium hydroxide and chlorine to the Dryden Pulp and Paper Company.

The Dryden Chemical Company dumped an estimated ten tons of mercury into the Wabigoon-English River system between 1962 and 1970.

Although, both the paper mill and chemical company ceased operations in 1976 the intervening years have done nothing to mitigate the levels of mercury in the river system, although the Dryden pulp and paper industry and the Canadian Government assured Grassy Narrows residents that it would.

It is surprising that Trudeau show a great affinity for the protester as the Grassy Narrows situation, along with being a serious health and quality of life concern, it is also an Aboriginal and an environmental matter, the last two concerns supposedly pivotal concerns of Trudeau.

That Trudeau treated a female protester so disrespectfully also goes against the image he fashioned as the champion of women’s equality.

Trudeau has now ensured that we no longer need to look south of the border to cite an example of supreme arrogance and ignorance coming from political leadership.

Of course, it is difficult not to accept a public apology as sincere, and even if the apology is insincere, the act of apologizing publicly is acknowledgment that something needs to be addressed.

The day after the incident with the protestor Trudeau apologized, managing to sound contrite and sanctimonious at the same time.

“As I think you all know, from time to time I’m in situations where people are expressing concerns or protesting a particular thing, and I always try to be respectful and always try to engage with them in a positive way,” he said, after attending a meeting in Halifax.

“That’s how I believe democracy should function, and I didn’t do that last night. Last night I lacked respect towards them and I apologize for that.”

It is good to apologize and express regret. It is also good to feel you can trust an apology and move on.

However, the behavior that called for the apology is sometimes difficult to ignore.

In this instance, the reason Trudeau apologized is that he ridiculed and disrespected a woman protesting on behalf of her community, who have been contending with mercury poison for decades.

It is important to remember that while he mocked the woman, Trudeau played to the crowd like a bully and sadly, the crowd responded with laughter and applause.


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