Tag Archives: Red China

Who is Dr. Theresa Tam?

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Who is Dr. Theresa Tam?

by Kidist Paulos Asrat

 
Armed for Work: Dr. Theresa Tam arrives at meeting determined to impose Chinese-style health measures upon Canadians.


The official line is that she is the “Chief Public Health Officer” of Canada. With this position, she has become, in effect, the Canadian official behind the government’s COVID-19 containment strategy. But who is Theresa Tam, really?  How did she acquire such a powerful position, with the ability to close down a whole nation based on such inconsequential statistics of 3-4% cases, which even the 2018 flu virus, with double the cases, wasn’t able to do?

Teresa Tam Locks Down Canada


Tam appears daily in the living room of Canadians reporting on the state of the virus on various television stations with her government colleagues, Minister of Health Patty Hajdu and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, telling Canadians to “practice physical distancing” to “fight” this “pandemic.”

Initially, Tam questioned the public health risks of the virus:

Right now, the cases are in China. Very few are exported. Yes, there’s human-to-human transmission, but those are generally for close contacts…for the general public…the risk is low in Canada.

But all this changed by late March, and Tam told Canadians in her April 3 television update:

There are now 11, 747 cases of COVID-19, including 152 deaths. Again this represents infections from previous exposures, and not what is happening right now. So our urge is that even if you’re not hearing about cases in your community, it doesn’t mean that there is no risk of exposure, and we must all consider that anyone could be infected and keep our two meter distance as the safest approach. [Tam’s full presentation is available here.]

Her message now is that anyone, and everyone, could be infected. This was her rationale for assisting in the nation-wide emergency alert to Canadians that they “Stay Home; Restez a la Maison.”

“So, of course, we owe it to everyone to not put Canadians at risk, and to do all we can to stop the spread of COVID-19 right now,” says Tam of her decision. Her prescription is to “practice social distancing, self-isolation, hand hygiene.” Her recommendations have indeed evolved into simplistic symbols, the images for which bear a strong resemblance to public health information on avoiding the flu, which are presented every year for the virus which, at its most lethal, killed 8,500 people in 2018. And the country has never shut down for fear of the flu.


The only item missing on the Corona-Checklist is “Get Vaccinated.” So far.


And from this information, a lockdown of dutiful, and guilt-ridden, Canadians became the reality. Across the country, dutiful citizens closed their shops, left jobs, shuttered schools and daycare centres, and stayed home, waiting for Tam’s daily updates, to urge them to participate in the next battle tactic against their invisible enemy, who could be lurking anywhere.

And they all obliged. Tam’s draconian “Stay Home/ Restez a la Maison” ordinance could be the beginning of much stricter enforcements to come, based on her premise that “anyone could be infected,” which means that we could all be infected.

Mississauga’s (Ontario) City Centre, with blocked off, empty parking lots, which are normally filled to capacity


As the Chief Health Officer in Canada, Tam provides the data, the analyses, and the recommendations on health care and enforcement to the government. Prime Minister Trudeau, clearly following the advice of his Chief Public Health Officer, officially stated in March 29 during his daily update that:

There are no plans to call in Canada’s military to enforce quarantine or self-isolation measures amid COVID-19.

Trudeau continues, with a hint of what might come for those who don’t follow these regulations:

The Canadian Armed Forces are there to help when Canada is in need…Right now we have not received any specific requests and there are no plans underway to have the army intervene.


“All Canadians must act now to reduce the spread,” orders Tam in her pre-taped video, which has the air of an infomercial, appearing periodically on the CBC and CTV. And her emphatic “now” has a clear subtext that there are serious consequences for those who don’t help to “reduce the spread” of this “serious public health threat.”

So here we are, in the midst of the “global health crisis.”

So Who is Dr Theresa Tam?


Who is this woman now in charge of providing the “chief” medical information concerning Canada’s lockdown? Where did she come from? There is very little available on her biography, very little personal (and even professional) information on Tam. Somewhere there was a post that she was 55 years old, but I couldn’t find:

  • Her date of birth
  • Her place of birth (other than “raised in Hong Kong”)
  • The dates of her various degrees – I even went into the UBC and UA websites looking for alumni profiles.
  • There are no listings of her theses and dissertation.

She is listed having expertise in immunization, infectious disease, emergency preparedness and global health security. Something more specific, and odd, is: “she is a graduate of the The Canadian Field Epidemiology Program” which looks like an internship or upgrades for employees in the Public Health Agency of Canada.
 
But I couldn’t find her medical school records to find her year of graduation, or any other post-grad qualifications.
 
I am usually pretty good at finding out some of this information, but to draw a blank on almost all the key components that make up a biographical profile is very strange.


Wikipedia states her birth place as Hong Kong, that she grew up in Britain, obtaining her medical degree in the University of Nottingham, with further studies at the University of Alberta for her residency, and the University of British Columbia under a fellowship.

A page on the Government of Canada website states that she is an expert in “immunization, infectious disease, and global health security.”

The World Health Organization’s international website lists her as “an international expert on a number of World Health Organization committees” including SARS, pandemic influenza and polio eradication.

Her associations with the World Health Organization (WHO), I believe, has brought her in contact with Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Eritrean Director General of WHO, who was key in starting the misinformation about the global coronavirus panic. Ghebreyesus downplayed the virus’ outbreak in Wuhan, China, defending China’s President Xi’s misinformation on the severity of the virus, and refusing to support President Trump’s travel bans and restrictions of flights from China.

Tedros Gebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization, (L) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People, on January 28, 2020 in Beijing. China Politics


Tam has close links with the WHO as a consultant. I believe she personally knows Tedros Gebreyesus (the Eritrean Director General of WHO), who was key in starting the misinformation about the global panic. She is a feminist and a socialist, as Tedros is also a life-long Marxist, starting from his political positions in the various Ethiopian Marxist governments from the 1980s and the 2000s.

She has politicized her role in Canadians’ health and well-being. She declares, following the socialist mandates of the WHO, which is clearly her own political stance:

A healthy Canada requires us to level the [social] playing field.

And she was present at a conference in Vancouver in 2019 titled “Women Deliver,” presented by an organization which aims to indoctrinate young women, Canadian alike, with feminism, by advancing “Gender Equality and the health, rights and well-being of girls and women everywhere.”

She is also involved in the WHO’s various vaccinations (immunization) projects, working also under three of WHO’s emergency committees: Ebola, MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and poliovirus.

We learn from Carolyn Brown’s article, “WHO veteran heads up Canadian public health“, that, according to Tam, “emergency committee members do not represent their countries.” Brown explains that Tam “was selected for her background in field epidemiology, travel health, emergency medicine and pandemic preparedness.”

 
Tam is an advocate for vaccinations, pressing for the coronavirus vaccine, which requires $CAN 192 million for its development, despite the very low fatal cases from the virus, with the majority of those affected resuming full recovery. This puts her as an expert on vaccine preparation, which has been the topic of her latest updates on the conronavirus fight. But here is a report on the risks of a coronavirus vaccine, which Tam has not presented in any of her reports.

Tam has worked with other health emergencies before, including the Ebola outbreak, SARS and the H1N1 influenza, which helped her prepare her COVID-19 health strategy. Three years ago, discussing the SARS epidemic, Tam stated that her job would be all about “harnessing the efforts of the many to protect and promote the health of all Canadians, including the most vulnerable in our society.”

When she said those words nearly three years ago, Tam probably didn’t imagine she would be ordering Canadians not to leave the country and to socially distance themselves en masse.

Recently, the Canadian government made donations to China of masks, gloves, and protective gear, while at the same time Canada was beginning to experience shortages of these materials. The donation and the shortages were discussed in the Senate. I believe it is the Chinese Tam who was behind all this.

Opposition Conservative leader Andrew Scheer tweeted on March 26 regarding these “donations”

Outrageous. Drs across the country are facing urgent shortages of critical supplies. PM must explain why he sent 50,118 face shields, 1,101 masks, 1,820 goggles, 36,425 coveralls, 200,000 nitrile gloves and 3,000 aprons from Canada’s own gov’t reserves oversees in Feb.


The Media Says “A Star is Born”


This uncharismatic woman with the monotonous voice is being touted as “a new star is born” who “offer[s] clarity in the age of the coronavirus.”

“A Star is Born”: Emergency Fundraising T-Shirt (Dr. Theresa Tam), C$45.00


Tam downplays the China origins of the virus, attempting to silence those who hold views that link the virus to China, and Chinese in Canada, by warning Canadians to stop stigmatizing the Chinese in Canada. Her accusations of racist acts towards Chinese in Canada are largely anecdotal, which is strange as she is supposed to be an expert on epidemiology and data analysis,

Tam writes on her twitter page:

These actions create a divide of us versus them…Canada is a country built on the deep-rooted values of respect, diversity and inclusion.

I should add that there is a revealing item from CPAC on face masks which brings up Tam’s own reference to her Chinese background, and where I believe she sends subtle messages of the kind of draconian, perpetual, “imprisonment” of people behind masks, as she says people in China have become accustomed to.

It is a long video on an April 3 update, but the points she makes are at 36:21 – 36.26 (I’ve transcribed them):

I think we’re all learning, through, I think particularly Western societies that are not used to wearing masks in public, are sort of learning this as we are going along, and so, some of this information I think is in real time, undergoing evolution.

I wonder if she is a lesbian? Her whole demeanor, sometimes charming, at others draconian, and also the weird all-black legging and jacket she wore in one of her photos (I’ve put in the article), her unkempt hair, unlike Hajdu and Freedland who attempt at some femininity, suggests this.
 
All in all, Canada’s health is being overseen by a Chinese women we know very little about, with a very strange personality.

***

Kidist Paulos Asrat has a website, Reclaiming Beauty.

BREAKING: China lied about coronavirus cases US intelligence says & Canada’s Sino-servile Liberal Establishment Cried Racism Rather Than Blocking or Testing Travellers from China

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BREAKING: China lied about coronavirus cases US intelligence says & Canada’s Sino-servile Liberal Establishment Cried Racism Rather Than Blocking or Testing Travellers from China

 

CHINESE MARKET

: China lied about coronavirus cases US intelligence says

The country has allegedly under-reported the total number of cases and deaths in connection with the virus.

Sam McGriskin Montreal, QC

1st April 2020 2 mins read

China has not revealed the extent to which the coronavirus outbreak has affected the country according to US intelligence. The country has allegedly under-reported the total number of cases and deaths in connection with the virus. Bloomberg News reported that three US officials said information on the subject was released to the White House in a classified report.

The officials did not want to be identified due to the secrecy of the report and did not provide further details on its contents. They did note however, that China intentionally provided incomplete reporting on the number of cases and the overall death toll. According to two of the officials, information in the report says China’s numbers are fake.

One official added that the White House received the report last week.

The outbreak started in Hubei, China in 2019 and data from Johns Hopkins University shows that China has reported around 82,000 cases of the disease and 3,300 deaths. The U.S. has reported 189,000 cases and over 4,000 deaths—the world’s largest publicly reported outbreak.

Skepticism of China’s numbers has grown both inside and outside of the country as several methodologies have been used to count cases. The country did not include asymptomatic people in its counts until only recently. Over 1,500 people without symptoms were added to China’s total on Tuesday.

In Hubei province, people began to doubt the reporting when thousands of urns were stacked outside funeral homes.

In a news conference on Tuesday, State Department immunologist Deborah Birx who is advising on the subject at the White house said, “The medical community made—interpreted the Chinese data as: This was serious, but smaller than anyone expected.”

“Because I think probably we were missing a significant amount of the data, now that what we see happened to Italy and see what happened to Spain.”

Iran, Indonesia, Russia and particularly North Korea are suspected of similar faulty reporting by Western officials. North Korea has not even reported one case of the disease. Egypt and Saudi Arabia have also been suspected of underreporting.

Michael Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State, has accused China of not revealing the extent of the problem many times.

“This data set matters,” Pompeo said during a news conference on Tuesday. Development of Public health measures and medical therapies used for combating coronavirus “so that we can save lives depends on the ability to have confidence and information about what has actually transpired,” he added.

“I would urge every nation: Do your best to collect the data. Do your best to share that information.”

__________________________________

Chris Selley of The National Post (March 31, 2020) exposes how many of Ottawa’s very deferential to China “experts” were woefully wrong with advice not to close the borders to people coming from the epicentre of the Coronavirus — Red China.

Chris Selley: Official nonsense on masks, travel bans is killing Ottawa’s COVID-19 credibility

When officials say ‘masks don’t work,’ regular people hear, ‘we have a dire shortage of masks for frontline healthcare workers so please give us your masks’

On Saturday, the federal government announced passengers with COVID-19 symptoms would be barred from domestic air and train travel, effective noon on Monday. “It will be important for operators of airlines and trains to ensure that people who are exhibiting symptoms do not board,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters.

Does that make sense? It’s a question Canadians seem to be asking more and more about this country’s coronavirus response. And for governments and public health officials, it’s a dangerous one. All too often, the answer is “no.”

“What about buses?” many asked on social media of Saturday’s announcement. Buses are provincial jurisdiction, the feds noted. “What about ferries?” asked the Canadian Ferry Association. Good question. Ferries are Transport Canada’s business. No answer yet. Mind you, transport operators don’t yet have any guidance on how exactly they’re supposed to “ensure” symptomatic people don’t travel. It doesn’t make much sense.

Furthermore, we have been told over and over again that any measures carriers might implement — temperature sensors, for example — simply don’t work. “The positive predictive value of screening is essentially zero,” the authors of a widely cited 2005 study reported, based on Canadian airports’ experience with thermal scanners during the 2003 SARS outbreak.

One of the authors of that study was Theresa Tam, who is now Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer. She’s the one doling out all the science that Trudeau insists underpins every single decision he and his ministers make: “Our focus every step of the way is doing what (is) necessary at every moment based on the recommendations of experts, based on science and doing what we can to keep Canadians safe,” the prime minister said Monday.

It’s more than a bit awkward — but not as awkward as federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu’s immortal March 13th dismissal of travel restrictions: “Canadians think we can stop this at the border, but what we see is a global pandemic, meaning that border measures actually are highly ineffective and in some cases can create harm.” Five days later, the border slammed shut.

We are to believe all of the positions above were supported by the same scientific experts. That doesn’t make sense. Clearly the experts supported the more lenient measures, and then politics intervened.

Clearly the experts supported the more lenient measures, and then politics intervened

Appearing before the Health Committee on January 29, Tam strongly dismissed the notion even of having all travellers from COVID-19 hot zones self-isolate for 14 days. She warned against “stigmatizing” communities. She very nearly suggested we couldn’t implement travel restrictions even if we wanted to. “Right now… (the World Health Organization) does not recommend travel bans,” she warned the committee. “We are a signatory to the International Health Regulations and we’ll be called to account if we do anything different.”

The WHO still recommends against travel restrictions, even to and from especially affected countries. No one seems to be “calling us to account.”

It could well be that by the time Canadians started calling for travel restrictions, it was already too late to implement useful ones. That’s what research generally concludes. But research also acknowledges the political inevitability of travel crackdowns. They just make too much sense to too many people. Federal ministers and public health officials recklessly undermined themselves by so forcefully rejecting measures that made so much sense to so many people Health Minister Patty Hajdu. Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

“Security theatre can be dangerous — but the absence of security theatre can be dangerous too,” Martha Pillinger, an associate at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, wrote in Foreign Policy last month. “Apparent inaction (or insufficient action) erodes trust in public health authorities, which undermines response efforts.”

Indeed, Tam is asking a lot of Canadians to set aside a lot of common sense right now. There is ample evidence that face masks — even homemade ones — can provide significant protection to the uninfected. But Tam warns only of the potential pitfalls: Masks can provide “a false sense of security,” lead to more face-touching or make us forget to wash our hands. “Putting a mask on an asymptomatic person is not beneficial,” she said at her Monday press conference.

That makes sense to a lot of medical professionals. A lot of regular people, however, are pretty sure they know how to wash their hands and not touch their faces. When officials say “masks don’t work,” a lot of regular people hear “we have an inexcusable shortage of masks for frontline healthcare workers so please give us your masks.” When officials say “you don’t need to be tested,” they are likely to hear “we have inexcusably few tests available and not enough lab capacity to process the ones we have.”

Officials recklessly undermined themselves by so forcefully rejecting measures that made so much sense to so many people

On Sunday, Tam sternly advised Canadians against retreating to any “rural properties” they might own. “These places have less capacity to manage COVID-19,” she told reporters in Ottawa. That makes sense, as do concerns about straining off-season supply chains. But let’s say you’ve been extremely careful. You’re symptom free. You pack up a week’s worth of groceries, drive 90 minutes or two hours non-stop to your cottage, camp, farm or chalet, and don’t interact with a single other human being. How dangerous, how irresponsible could that really be? If the cottage is good enough for Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and the kids, who beetled off to Harrington Lake on Sunday, some people might conclude it’s good enough for them.

Public health officials want to prevent people from asking such questions, from making excuses for themselves, in hopes the maximum number of people will take the maximum precautions. They need smart people to forsake relatively low-risk things in order to counterbalance all the dumb people who do high-risk things no matter what they’re told. None of the measures will ever make perfect sense in every single situation. They are calls to collective sacrifice for the greater good. But they can’t keep changing on the fly, with no explanation other than “the experts got more worried overnight,” and remain credible.

On Monday, Trudeau declined even to say he regretted not moving quicker on measures he now insists are essential.

Does that make sense? No, that doesn’t make sense.

Criticism of the Chinese government’s handling of coronavirus is not racism

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Criticism of the Chinese government’s handling of coronavirus is not racism

Marcus Kolga: By wrapping themselves in ethno-nationalist rhetoric, the Chinese Communist Party often claims that a critique of their actions is equivalent to a critique of their people—a tried and true tactic in the authoritarian playbook

Marcus Kolga is a digital communications strategist and expert on foreign disinformation. He is a Senior Fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute’s Centre for Advancing Canada’s Interests Abroad.

When we criticize the actions of governments run by autocrats and dictators, like those in Russia and China, we must bear in mind that it is not the citizens who are responsible for their government’s abuse and negligence; they are in fact, the greatest victims of it.

For instance, the Chinese people bear no responsibility for their government’s illegitimate imprisonment of Canadians Michael Kovrig, Michael Spavor and Hussein Celil. It is also the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) criminal negligence that directly contributed to the mass outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, and the ensuing pandemic we face today. In fact, I very much doubt the families of China’s COVID-19 victims are celebrating their government’s actions today.

When we criticize the actions of these governments, we must be very specific and accurate in directing our criticism towards those who are in power. In the case of China, it is the Communist Party that holds exclusive decision-making power, and in Russia, the Putin regime. In both cases, the people of these nations have no meaningful say in the decision-making process of their governments, and face arrest and imprisonment for criticizing them.

MORE: When will the Chinese government be held accountable for the spread of coronavirus?

By generalizing our disapproval and outrage towards the citizens of these regimes, we risk hurting and stigmatizing these communities, and that plays directly into the disinformation warfare tactics that such regimes are engaged in against the Western world, including accusations of “racism.”

Authoritarian regimes frequently label foreign criticism of their policies as “racist” as a way to delegitimize them and polarize debate. By wrapping themselves in ethno-nationalist rhetoric, these regimes often claim that a critique of their actions is equivalent to a critique of the people itself; this heightens the need to be precise with our language and aware of the propaganda efforts of authoritarian regimes. It’s a tried and true tactic in the authoritarian playbook.

China’s former ambassador to Canada, Lu Shaye, accused the Canadian government of “white supremacy” last year, when Canada demanded the release of its citizens who had been arbitrarily detained in China, in retaliation after Canada complied with a U.S. extradition request for Huawei CEO Meng Wanzhou.

MORE: China kidnapped two Canadians. What will it take to free them?

Last week, the E.U. published a report that warned Vladimir Putin is seeking to use the COVID-19 pandemic to destabilize Western nations and undermine our alliances. The report states that the Russian government’s cynical disinformation attack is designed to “aggravate the public health crisis in Western countries, specifically by undermining public trust in national health care systems, thus preventing an effective response to the outbreak.”

In the apparent absence of any evidence that would disprove the E.U. claim, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Pskov accused the E.U. of “Russophobia” in an effort to intimidate European policy-makers, critics and media into silence.

The same tactic has been used by the Russian government to discredit Canadian political leaders, like Chrystia Freeland, whose Ukrainian background has been cited as tainting her judgment. Putin critics, like myself, have also been labelledRussophobic” for advocating for Canadian Magnitsky human rights legislation, a law that was lauded as the most pro-Russian measure that any Western government could take, according to assassinated Russian pro-democracy opposition leader, Boris Nemtsov.

Yet the concerns of Canadians who are worried about ethnic communities being stigmatized by the global pandemic must not be dismissed either. As the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin has pointed out, President Trump’s recent reference to COVID-19 being a “Chinese virus” is “simplistic but technically accurate,” and plays into the hands of Chinese Communist Party propagandists, who in turn use this to provoke anti-Trump and anti-Western sentiments.

Leading U.S.-based Chinese human rights activist Jianli Yang told me that he “may not like the term ‘Chinese virus’ that President Trump has been using in the past few days,” but he doesn’t believe “it is intended by him for any racist meaning.” He believes that Trump was using the term to counter the Chinese government’s attempts to “divert responsibility for its mishandling of the outbreak which has resulted in this global pandemic.”

Yang believes that “there should be and must be a moment when all, victimized individuals and countries, come together to hold the CCP regime accountable.”

Here in Canada, we can be fairly certain that our governments’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, at all three levels of government, have been shaped by our sensitivity to potential accusations of racism by Chinese government propaganda. Why else did Canada refrain from limiting travel from Hubei and China, only to close off virtually all foreign travel mere weeks later?

Canada is not alone in facing such foul accusations.

In Sweden, a former, long-serving Swedish MP, Gunnar Hökmark, wrote in a recent opinion piece that “China’s leaders should apologize to the world for epidemics coming from China because of the dictatorship’s failure to address food safety, animal standards, and because its repression of truth and the freedom of its own citizens.” China’s ambassador to Sweden Gui Congyou condemned the statement and accused Hökmark of “stigmatizing” China. China’s ambassador also went on to criticize Hökmark, his colleague Patrik Oksanen and their think tank, the Stockholm Free World Forum, for being part of an “anti-China political machine” and for “attacking, slandering and stigmatizing China.”

Canadians and our government must take great care to avoid generalizations that risk stigmatizing Canadians of Chinese heritage, or any other community, whose governments engage in similar repressive behaviour, including the Russian and Iranian regimes. However, we must also be alert to regime propagandists who seek to dismiss and silence legitimate criticism of their actions when they smear critics with false accusations of “racism.”

As Jianli Yang underlined for me, “the Chinese Communist regime is not justified in accusing anyone of racism, who criticize its early-stage covering up of the COVID-19 outbreak, and the latest information (disinformation) war against other countries.”

Justin Trudeau on Castro’s Death- a PM without Common Sense

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Paul Fromm, Director of the Canadain Association for Freedom of Expression gloats with talk show host Brian Ruhe about How Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stuc…
Published on Dec 2, 2016

Paul Fromm, Director of the Canadain Association for Freedom of Expression gloats with talk show host Brian Ruhe about How Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stuck his foot in his mouth by overpraisingFidel Castro in his eulogy. Brian and Paul discuss the theory that Justin Trudeau is the son of Fidel Castro!

Below is a FAIR USE of an article by PAUL WELLS, National Affairs, Tues., Nov. 29, 2016, at:
https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2…

I want to talk about the rest of Canada’s weird, hesitant relationship with Cuba. But first, since I’m just getting to it now, a few words about Justin Trudeau and Fidel Castro.

We haven’t seen Justin Trudeau mourn like this since his dad died. In expressing his “deep sorrow” at the death of Castro, a “larger than life” figure whom Trudeau lauded as “a legendary orator” —

Sorry, let’s just pause right there. Legendary orator? On Sept. 26, 1960, Castro addressed the United Nations General Assembly for four and a half hours, a record unchallenged to this day in the most boring room on earth. In 1998 in Havana, he spoke for seven and a half hours. Calling Castro a great orator is like calling porn legend Ron Jeremy a romantic: it confuses volume with quality.

Onward. Trudeau lauded Castro’s “tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people,” whose speech and dietary protein Castro rationed, by law, for decades. I guess it was tough love.

To be sure, Trudeau balanced his praise with criticism. “During Castro’s rule, thousands of Cubans were incarcerated in abysmal prisons, thousands more were harassed and intimidated, and entire generations were denied basic political freedoms,” the prime minister wrote. Just kidding! No, that last quote isn’t from Justin Trudeau at all. It’s from Human Rights Watch. As for the PM, in a communiqué overflowing with praise for Castro, he could find room for only one word about the Cuban dictator’s human rights record: “controversial.”

Nor can the PM’s defenders long sustain the notion that his statement must have been penned by some careless lackey in the Prime Minister’s Office. No, the communiqué is too solidly in line with the entire Trudeau family’s record on the man to be anything but an honest reflection of Justin Trudeau’s thought.

Castro was a pallbearer at Pierre Trudeau’s funeral. The PM’s brother Alexandre Trudeau wrote in this newspaper a decade ago that Castro was “something of a superman,” whose “intellect is one of the most broad and complete that can be found.” Alexandre Trudeau wrote that he “grew up knowing that Fidel Castro had a special place among my family’s friends,” even if ordinary Cubans “do occasionally complain, often as an adolescent might complain about a too strict and demanding father.”

One notes family similarities in prose style.

Justin Trudeau is defending the statement he made following the death of former Cuban president Fidel Castro. The prime minister says he never shies away from addressing human rights issues.(THE CANADIAN PRESS)
So a prime minister who claims to prize evidence-based policy was caught putting family connections ahead of the exhaustively documented abuses of a man whose death marks a crucial step in his own people’s long-delayed march toward freedom.

But the rest of us — we cold and bashful Canadians — will probably continue to watch Cuba as we have for decades, unsure or divided in our response to events in the land Fidel Castro leaves behind.

Exhibit A in the theatre of ambivalence is Justin Trudeau’s predecessor. Stephen Harper met Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother and still the president of Cuba, only 19 months ago, attending what would be Harper’s last Summit of the Americas in Panama City. The two men sat smiling awkwardly at each other in hard-backed chairs next to a little round table.

Probably most Canadians not named Trudeau have long known that Cubans did not have the government Canadians would want for them — and, indeed, not the government Cubans would choose, were they granted the freedom to change their minds about the revolution. But that knowledge doesn’t tell us which mix of engagement and isolation is wisest.

Most Canadian leaders have fallen back on a policy of doing a little less than the Americans. It’s a deeply unsatisfying policy. John Diefenbaker resisted putting Canadian forces on a war footing during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Harper let Obama decide on a change in stance, providing only conference facilities and plausible deniability.

Having blown some political capital by saying what he thinks, Trudeau is now going to skip Fidel Castro’s funeral. It’s a retreat to ambivalence dictated by a public outcry that must have astonished the prime minister, who grew up with a photo of Fidel Castro in his family’s home and thought, perhaps, that everybody does.

Paul Wells is a national affairs writer. His column usually appears Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.