Far-left Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau received a formal reprimand in Parliament on Wednesday after accusing Conservative Party member Melissa Lantsman, a descendent of Holocaust survivors, of supporting “people who wave swastikas” for condemning his inflammatory rhetoric.
During question time, Lantsman compared Trudeau’s unifying language in 2015 to remarks this year calling people who choose not to receive a Chinese coronavirus vaccine product dose “racist women haters,” condemning Trudeau for using incendiary language to invoke a never-before-used emergency law to shut down peaceful protests against coronavirus-related civil rights violations.
Trudeau has struggled to respond to the “Freedom Convoy” protests, which have consisted largely of truckers using their vehicles to block major roadways. In Ottawa, the nation’s capital, thousands of protesters have convened in the downtown core to inconvenience the political elite, but the scale of the assembly has resulted in no violence and minimal arrests for crimes like “mischief.”
Protesters are demanding an end to business lockdowns, vaccine mandates, sanitary mask mandates, and all other coronavirus-related government restrictions. Trudeau has responded to those demands by repeatedly accusing the protesters of being Nazis and supporters of the 19th-century American Confederate movement.
Trudeau did not answer Lantsman’s ultimate question, “When did the prime minister lose his way?” Instead, he again accused Conservative Party members who have asked his government for a timeline to do away with the coronavirus mandates of supporting Nazis and Confederates.
“Conservative Party members can stand with people who wave swastikas, they can stand with people who wave the Confederate flag,” Trudeau said. “We will choose to stand with Canadians who deserve to be able to get to their jobs and be able to get their lives back. These illegal protests need to stop, and they will.”
Lawmakers nearly drowned out Trudeau’s statement with jeers, a common sound during his remarks in Parliament in the past two weeks. Anthony Rota, the speaker of the House of Commons, responded with a scolding clearly directed at the prime minister. Like Trudeau, Rota is a member of the Liberal Party.
“I would like to remind members, including the right honorable prime minister, to use words that are not inflammatory in the House – and that’s for both sides,” Rota said, one of several similar requests after multiple outbursts of jeers and heckling on Wednesday.
Lantsman responded by declaring Trudeau’s statements “unbecoming of a prime minister” and asserting that Trudeau had “lost control of the situation … lost control of his country … and lost control of his leadership.”
Later during the Parliamentary session, Lantsman issued a point of order to request a formal apology from Trudeau.
“I am a strong Jewish woman and a member of this House and a descendant of Holocaust survivors, and it’s never been singled out, and I’ve never been made to feel less,” Lantsman said, “except for today when the prime minister accused me of standing with swastikas. I think he owes me an apology, I’d like an apology, and I think he owes an apology to all members of this House.”
I think the Prime Minister should think long and hard about his own history before singling out a Jewish Member of Parliament and falsely accusing me of standing with a Swastika. What a disgraceful statement unbecoming of anyone in public office – he owes me an apology. #cdnpoli
— Melissa Lantsman (@MelissaLantsman) February 16, 2022
By the time Lantsman issued her request, Trudeau had vacated the session.
“He’s left the building!” a lawmaker can be heard shouting after Lantsman’s remarks.
The Prime Minister has yet to issue an apology at press time.
Trudeau has repeatedly accused everyone supporting an end to coronavirus mandates of being tied to Nazis and Confederates. The claim appears to be a reference to photos of a protester waving a Nazi flag alongside a flag reading “F [maple leaf] ck Trudeau” and a Canadian flag, and another photo of a man holding a Confederate flag with a truck on it, taken in late January. The symbols have not made any other significant appearance at the many iterations of the “Freedom Convoy” protests nationwide and many protesters seeking an end to coronavirus restrictions have repudiated them. Despite this, Trudeau has referred to the entirety of the movement as “a few people shouting and waving swastikas” during previous Parliament sessions and described protesters as “tinfoil hat” wearers.
Trudeau greatly inflamed national tensions this week by invoking the Emergencies Act — a law passed in 1988 that had never been used before — to greatly expand federal power to shut down protests. The move prompted alarm, anger, and confusion, particularly as Trudeau has not attempted to address the protests’ concerns in any way or make any other move prior to invoking the Act. Trudeau’s government has also threatened to bar individuals believed to be supportive of the Freedom Convoy’s demands from using any banking system.
The premiers of several provinces have since rejected Trudeau’s measure and urged the federal government to stay out of their jurisdictions.
“I think at this point, for the federal government to reach in over top of us, without offering anything in particular, would frankly be unhelpful,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said this week. “I think we need to find ways to effectively enforce without escalating the situation.”
“I think that at this moment, it would not help the social climate. There’s a lot of pressure right now, and I think we have to be careful. We really don’t need to throw oil on the fire,” the premier of Quebec, Francois Legault, said in response to the Emergencies Act invocation, insisting, “the Federal Emergencies Act should not, must not, apply in Quebec.”
“I think it’s important that Manitobans and Canadians know and understand that it’s not necessary, and we need to think very carefully and clearly before going in that direction,” Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson asserted.