It’s irresponsible for Justin Trudeau to equate the far right and far left in Canada

By Taylor C. Noakes, Toronto Star, Oct. 18, 2021

At an international conference last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a statement that was either bafflingly ignorant or, if deliberate, vile and contemptible:

“We see the organizations of extremist groups on the far-right and the far-left that are pushing white supremacy, intolerance, radicalization, promoting hatred, fear and mistrust across borders but within borders, as well.”

This is false. Canada has a well-documented problem with far-right radicalization. What we don’t have is an equal number of violent Marxist radicals blocking access to hospitals, trying to prevent asylum seekers from crossing the border or running off to the U.S. to join the militia movement. I can’t recall the last time an armed radical communist rammed the gates at Rideau Hall. There are violent extremists in this country, but they’re without exception on the right side of the political dial.

It should come as no surprise that the Prime Minister’s Office is incapable of naming the “far left” organizations in Canada that are pushing intolerance and radicalization. They don’t exist. Canada’s left has always been at the forefront in the fight against racism and fascism, at home and abroad. It’s a history all Canadians can be proud of, and it contrasts sharply with the vile history of racism and white supremacy promoted within our borders by the Canadian government. Remember, it was a government official, not a member of Canada’s Communist party, who said of Jewish people “none is too many.”

It is the far right that poses the clear and present danger to our society, and to that of our neighbour and closest ally. But don’t take my word for it: that’s what the police have been saying for many years. The people who pelted the prime minister with stones, who claim vaccine mandates are equivalent to the Holocaust, and who stormed the Capitol earlier this year were not members of the campus Marxist club.

That such a statement would be made on the same day Canada announces its commitment to fighting antisemitism is demonstrative of a cognitive dissonance usually reserved for radio hosts trafficking in conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, when it comes to historically illiterate false equivalencies, Team Trudeau has the market cornered. His government is building a monument that puts the perpetrators of totalitarian political violence on equal footing with its victims. His government commemorates Black Ribbon Day, which counts the perpetrators of the Holocaust as no different from its victims — something Holocaust scholars have decried as Holocaust denialism.

Antisemitism is a real problem in Canada, as are all forms of racism and hatred. To suggest that those who have a consistent track record of fighting it are equal to those who have a consistent track record of promoting it defies logic.

As a historian, I can say professionally that the prime minister’s confused statements border on being disinformation and need to be retracted. What he said is ahistorical nonsense of the highest order. Canada’s left has only ever been committed to anti-racism and antifascism, the exact opposite of Canada’s far right.


Taylor C. Noakes is an independent journalist and public historian from Montreal.


Posted Oct. 28, 2021