FUREY: Trudeau labels legit terrorism questions as 'Islamophobia'
Editor's Note: In this article, Anthony Furey describes how Prime Minister Trudeau uses the spectre of “Islamophobia” to deflect legitimate questions about the prosecution of ISIS fighters returning to Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017.
There’s an old joke in political circles that says a racist is what you call someone who is winning an argument against a leftist. The idea of course being that if you’re using logic and facts to box your political opponent into a corner, they’ll turn around and randomly call you racist or reach for some other below the belt tactic to malign your character and sneak away from having to deal with the actual issue at hand. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used such a cheap shot earlier this week when faced with questions from Conservative leader Andrew Scheer on the government’s position on reintegrating Islamic State adherents from Canada who’ve since returned home from battle. While a lot of attention was given not just in Canada but around the world to the government’s bonkers notion that at least some extremists who have committed serious offences under Criminal Code terror provisions just need a good hug and an uplifting poetry jam in lieu of prosecution, few picked up on the added low blow that Trudeau snuck in on Tuesday during his back and forth with Scheer. Here’s Scheer’s question: “Mr. Speaker, it is the Prime Minister who is de-emphasizing Canadian security, and Canadians are tired of it. It was Conservatives who amended the Criminal Code to make it an offence to leave Canada to fight for ISIS. It was Conservatives who were focused on giving our law enforcement new tools to prosecute ISIS fighters. The Prime Minister is using a broad spectrum that includes poetry and podcasts, and all kinds of counselling and group hug sessions. When will the Prime Minister take the security of Canadians seriously and look for ways to put these ISIS fighters in jail?” That’s the full question, beginning to end. And here’s Trudeau’s complete response immediately following: “Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party learned nothing from the last election and the lessons Canadians taught them. They ran an election on snitch lines against Muslims, they ran an election on Islamophobia and division, and still they play the same games, trying to scare Canadians. The fact is we always focus on the security of Canadians, and we always will. They play the politics of fear, and Canadians reject that.” Scheer hit back, asking: “When will the Prime Minister take this seriously?” Trudeau’s response: “We can see that Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party is alive and well. They are doubling down on the same approaches they had in the last election, the same approaches that Canadians rejected. I wish them luck.” That was it, then the conversation shifted to the Bill Morneau drama. But what on earth was it all about? Scheer was clearly talking about reintegrating terrorists – people who Trudeau’s own public safety minister, in that very same House of Commons, confirmed have gone abroad to wage jihad as members of ISIS and allied groups. This is not up for debate. It’s not at all a controversial thing to say. So why is Trudeau trying to argue this line of inquiry is part and parcel of some sort of pattern of Islamophobia? There’s been no public opinion polling release yet on the idea of reintegrating jihadists in Canada. But past numbers showed Canadians of all political stripes were keen to go hard on ISIS, with two thirds opposing Trudeau’s decision from 2015 to stop bombing them. Are all of these Canadians Islamophobic? Are the Muslim Canadians who want to throw the book at jihadists also Islamophobic? Why is it wrong to ask questions about how the government handles the return of homegrown jihadists? If the Liberals are planning to use these talking points as a continued line of attack, as Trudeau himself said, I wish them luck.