03.15.2011 09:00 AM

J.T. (updated twice)

1. He’s apologized, and that’s a good thing:

@justinpjtrudeau: Ok, final word: all violence against women is barbaric. If my concerns about language led some to think otherwise, then I gladly apologize.

2. Jane has a story on a retraction and apology, here.


  1. Mark says:

    I can’t believe his name keeps getting trotted out as a leadership contender.

  2. Jan says:

    I think the word barbaric is unnecessarily inflammatory.

    • james curran says:

      Listen Gord. This has nothing to do with being “politically correct” and everything to do with government documents being well read and well written. Now, I don’t have a degree, but I think Namesake’s take on this is concise and accurate. And while all the acts described in the document are, in fact, barbaric, the document in question does suggest that others coming to our culture are savages.

  3. Namesake says:

    “why is he even talking about this”

    I wondered, too, until I, um, READ the article, where it explains that the new ‘Discover Canada’ guide which helps immigrants prepare for their citizenship test came out today, and he reviewed it to see if they restored the contested passage they’d deleted in the last edition about gay marriages being permissible here… which they did, and then that word caught his eye.

    Admittedly, it should have been flagged before now, but then, I don’t remember if he was Immigration Critic in 2009, when that word was first inserted.

    But it IS an inflammatory word which insults whole cultures by association, since it means:

    1. Savagely cruel; exceedingly brutal.
    2. Primitive; unsophisticated.

    Barbarian society… primitive culture, which has never been civilized.

    when, he’s right, the same official condemnation of the forbidden practices could be achieved in more judicious, official language as befits an official government document.

    An Canada Immigration booklet that says, in essence,

    “Welcome to Canada, you primitive savages, now listen here …”

    is probably not the best way to achieve the desired effect of peaceful, mutually respectful, law-abiding, productive integration.

    • The Other Jim says:

      But cultures that practice “honour killings” ARE barbaric.

      • TDotRome says:

        Uhhhh, no. The practice is barbaric. The culture is something much, much larger, that includes many more people. Lots of which, I’m sure, disagree with honour killings. That’s why painting all people with the same brush is an unfair & foolish practice lest it fall into bigotry.

        I can’t believe I have to explain this!

        • The Other Jim says:

          It is a cultural practice. It is a barbaric practice. Cultures in which it is tolerated or accepted are barbaric. Period. I’ll write that again. Any culture which believes that women or girls should be brutally killed for “shaming” the family is barbaric. Any culture which tolerates the mutilation of a young girl’s clitoris lest she enjoy sexual pleasure at some point in her life is barbaric. Culture does not exist in a vacuum – it is the totality of a population’s interaction with itself. If many people within a group disagree (hopefully the feeling is more akin to abhorrence), then the practice clearly isn’t part of the culture.

          Culture, by its very nature, paints people with a broad brush. There is hockey culture, hip hop culture, youth culture, etc. It is part of how people define themselves, and it is no better or worse to understand negative aspects of a particular culture as it is to admire positive aspects of one.

          Do NOT confuse culture with nationality, ethnicity, or even religion.

    • Michel says:

      Capital punishment is a sort of honour-killing, only done on behalf of the citizens by the state. So, if honour-killing is barbaric, then so is capital punishment.

  4. mike says:

    I think he sounds like an idiot. Stick to the issues that resonate.

  5. billg says:

    Maybe he’s just young and made a mistake. I know in the IPhone/Web World mistakes are not tolerated anymore, but, maybe it was just that, a mistake.

  6. He’s trying to clarify is statement on Twitter right now.

    >>My problem with the use of the word barbaric is that it was chosen to reassure Canadians rather than actually change unacceptable behaviours<<

    I tweeted back that honor killings aren't behaviors, they're murder.

    • Bill King says:

      The problem for JT is they aren’t ‘unacceptable’ behaviours, they are ‘barbaric’ behaviours. And i agree ‘bevaviour’ is the wrong word too.


  7. fritz says:

    Whether or not ‘absolutely unacceptable’ is a better choice of wording than ‘barbaric’ is a subject for discussion; but to make such a politically naive comment a week before an expected election call is politically stupid beyond belief.
    You can now expect to hear Tories denounce this statement as the answer to ever question in QP and on the political talk shows as a way to change the channel.
    I’m a big fan of JT but he has to get past this ASAP or it will hang over his head for years.
    Really, really dumb.

  8. JStanton says:

    … but we don’t condemn Americans for tacit support of the similarly morally reprehensible practices of capital punishment, imprisonment without trial, unquestioning support of despotic regimes, attacks on and occupation of foreign countries or targeting of civilians. To say nothing of their penchant to reward those responsible for financial crimes, and to abandon the people used to fight their wars and other crises, once they are broken.

    Yes, some cultures have a seemingly misguided sense of “honour”, which drives them to do terrible things. Other cultures have essentially the same problem.

    Mr. Trudeau’s problem is not that’s he’s wrong, it’s that he’s outspoken.

    • The Other Jim says:

      Sigh. Yes. That’s it. The flaws of America are morally equivalent to beating a young girl to death because she was raped. And, of course, we’ve had so many problems with American’s coming here, taking over our military command structure, and then bombing the hell out of foreign countries as Canadian citizens.

      You’ve made a list of perceived failings of the American GOVERNMENT (some of which are indeed accurate and reprehensible, others not so much). In doing so, you’ve destroyed any credibility that your argument might have had. Next time, go for the low-hanging fruit. America’s love of guns would have been the more useful and relevant example to use.

      Your problem isn’t just that you’re outspoken, you’re also wrong.

  9. Dave Wells says:


    I don’t know. My gut says four syllables is tough for any conservative to absorb at once.

  10. Dr Drew says:

    The voice of the Liberal Party has spoken and all Card Carrying Liberanos shall bow down before Him. The rest of us… not so much.

    • james curran says:

      Liberanos? Really Drewy? Four cons charged under the elections act, including 2 Senators. Another Con under investigation by the RCMP yesterday. I’d think twice buddy. Not a single Liberal MP or Senator was charged in the so-called sponsorship program. Not a one.

    • Steve Koptie says:

      500 Missing Aboriginal Women/Robert Pickton: Barbaric

      Reserves/Indian Act: Barbaric

      Corrections Canada as the Largest Reserve: Barbaric

      Residential Schools/Assimilation: Barbaric

      Canadian Indifference to Truth and Reconciliation: Barbaric

      In the end semantics is all about perspectives and messaging ideology

      • The Other Jim says:

        Nice try, but like JStanton above, the comparison just doesn’t float.

        Government does not equal culture. Government policies, especially on macro issues which do not impact the daily lives of individual citizens, are not the same as personal beliefs.

        The historic and contemporary mistreatment of First Nations peoples by the Canadian government is a national disgrace. Such problems are profound and lack any simple solutions. The situation clearly stems from centuries of racist attitudes, but the current malaise among the Canadian public regarding Native issues stems more from confusion, frustration, and an inability to grasp the extent of the problems than from simple bigotry (although too many Canadians still cling to “Redman” stereotypes). It also has nothing to do with the subject at hand.

        Honour killings require specific moral decisions and ACTION on the part of parties involved. Believing that women who shame their families should be killed makes you more likely to engage in such “behaviour”. Unlike broad government policies, it is the people themselves who specifically commit these murders. Nothing about honour killings is comparable to the six bullets that you provided above.

  11. Andrew says:

    Apologizing on Twitter…he’s so modern…

  12. james curran says:

    Good on JT for his Twitpology. I’m certain that is EXACTLY what he meant by his original comment.

  13. Lipman says:

    @ Drew:

    That old all Liberals genuflect before the deity Trudeau song again? One thing I like about JT is he makes the blood of you and your ilk boil.

  14. fritz says:

    I agree it’s good that he walked his comment back; although the apology is qualified with an”if”. It won’t stop the Tories from using the comment as a cudgel for a couple of days; but does, for the most part, end the story.
    My bet this reappears when he runs for his seat in Montreal duing the coming election.

  15. Lance says:

    “I apologize if (my comments have) been interpreted by any one as dismissing or diminishing the serious and appalling nature of honour killings”.

    :”Ok, final word: all violence against women is barbaric. If my concerns about language led some to think otherwise, then I gladly apologize”.

    In other words, he didn’t make a mistake – nope, the fault lies with his listeners, who are too stupid to understand what he really intended to mean and so misinterpreted his words.

    My problem with the use of the word barbaric is that it was chosen to reassure Canadians rather than actually change unacceptable behaviours”

    An example of “unacceptable behaviour” is burping while picking one’s ass in public. Murder is so beyond that as a “behaviour” that it needing to have the distinction explained should go without saying.

    This is supposed to be an example of the future of the Liberal party? This guy is a joke. Maybe needing to raze the Liberal party to the ground to start over isn’t enough. Maybe they need proverbial nuclear armaggeddon al la PCs circa 1993.
    This guy is a joke.

  16. Jamie Rothwell says:

    Personally I hate a political apology that apologizes for the public being offended but not for the act itself. But that’s a politician, not a partisan thing.

  17. Northbaytrapper says:

    The apology would have been fine, until he did the but at the end and through in a partisan attack. This was not an opportunity to attack the government. It was his opportunity to apologize and tell people how he really feels.

    This is a fail in book.

  18. eattv says:

    To me, this is a perfect example of what’s wrong with the Liberal party these days. Time spent noodling around the edges and no one willing to put their balls on the line in a clear stand on an important issue, lest they be criticized for it. So instead, they get criticized for (justifiably) saying that the government’s use of language is retrograde. That gets detractors and few supporters. If they started punching the Tories hard and long on some real issues (take government transparency, for one), they’d get detractors, but also a lot of people would finally get behind them and say “Yeah! We are getting screwed, aren’t we?”

    Bottom line – too much deep and nuanced thinking these days. Not enough Shawinigan Handshaking.

    • Lipman says:

      And what about the dozens of Liberal MP’s going after the government’s abuses everyday in the House and in committee?

      • eattv says:

        It’s not getting out there. They have to step it up. And no, I have no suggestions. I’m just giving you my perspective as a consumer of the media.

  19. Namesake says:


    People — except for the now officially un-PC Kady — are glossing over / ignoring the fact that the list of practices that Trudeau was reacting to that the Gov’t of Canada* is officially labeling as ‘barbaric’ and thereby impugning the entire cultures associated with them as being ‘primitive savages’ now includes:

    Forced marriages.

    Which is another word for “arranged marriages,” which quite a few very large civilizations which have BEEN civilized for very many centuries are still in the process of transitioning away from.

    And we, a mere toddler of a civilization in comparison, presume to brand THEM as barbaric for that, when ACTUAL forced (i.e., coerced, on pain of losing all material support or even facing actual violent reprisals) have been and most likely still will be done among a lot of Caucasians in North America:

    viz., “shotgun weddings” (see, we even have our own term for it), and even polygamous marriages involving minors, in Bountiful B.C., among other places.




    So I guess WE’RE a barbaric culture, too. Or maybe just a hypocritical one.

    * (and if ever there was a time to distinguish that from ‘the Harper Gov’t,’ but, no….they didn’t use the latter term….)

    • The Other Jim says:

      Very well said, Namesake. By far the best argument against the “Discover Canada” wording that I’ve read so far. Perhaps JT should hire you as his new policy wonk? 😉

  20. Namesake says:

    The other piece of shameful hypocrisy about this episode — which, as Kady tweeted last night, the PMO sure wanted all the media to be talking about, now [rather than, say, the latest RCMP investigation into the CPC’s suppression of information] —

    is how the Harper Government is, as on so many issues, talking out of both sides of its mouth on this matter of the politicization of language:

    – torquing UP the judgmental language on disapproved cultural practices relating to women & children for the latest immigrants (who can’t vote, yet), to play up to their base, in DOMESTIC documents like that citizenship manual; but,

    – torquing DOWN the judgmental language on on disapproved cultural practices relating to women & children, to play up to their base, in INTERNATIONAL documents, thereby undoing decades of carefully crafted diplomatic language and moral suasion on the part of our Foreign Affairs service:


    “‘Gender Equality’, ‘Child Soldiers’ and ‘Humanitarian Law’ are Axed from Foreign Policy Language”:

  21. Cath says:

    You’re right Gord.

  22. Namesake says:

    The plot thickens.

    So, it turns out that Master Trudeau DID make a very similar statement about the inappropriateness of the word “barbaric” in a new citizenship guide back when the CPC first revised it, in 2009 …

    …but was roundly ignored, then.


    Whereas this time, what with the beleaguered Minister Kenney facing attacks on several fronts for his using Parliamentary resources for fundraising and for over- and ill-using and temporary workers and severely cutting back on the numbers of family- and refugee-class immigrants and the resources available to them*….

    …well, they just had to make a partisan issue out of it for the latest shiny object to toss the base, then, didn’t they, so out went the PMO talking points to the press & the blogging tories last night, to fire everyone up. (which Taber dutifully reports on, twice in a day: http://urlm.in/hhvz / http://urlm.in/hhwa )

    So who’s the more shameless partisan, then?

    Yet Another Reason Why Jason Kenney Must be Fired, by Emily Dee: http://urlm.in/hhvv

    New Citizenship Guide Chock Full of Hypocrisies And Double Standards and All We Can Do is Slam Justin Trudeau For Semantics? By ck, SisterSage: http://urlm.in/hhvw

    (who notes, “A bit of trivia: Stoning of women actually comes right out of the bible. John 8:5 and Deuteronomy 22:21. ‘Honour killings’ are also preached in the good book. From Exodus 21:17, Leviticus 20:9, Leviticus 21:9.”

    Immigration Minister Kenney unwelcome at his own Canadian citizenship ceremony, By Krystalline Kraus: http://urlm.in/hhvx

  23. Namesake says:

    Here’s another bizarre wrinkle which shows how little the govt’s attack dogs themselves understand this file, and underscores the point in Dan Gardner’s new column that they’re just a bunch of bully boys.

    Early yesterday morning, when JT started tweeting about this to explain himself and field questions, Soudas was unsatisfied, and retorted with the usual Vic Toews claptrap about Liberals not caring about victims, thus:

    “justinpjtrudeau the right thing to do is an apology to victims of honour killings and their families. Honour killings are barbaric.”


    Well, the mind boggles. By def., the so-called “Honour Killings” ARE committed by the families. So what would such an apology look like, then:

    “I’m sorry for questioning whether the Canadian Government should officially describe your actions and culture as “barbaric” — you ARE barbaric. I apologize for witholding any extra offense to your family and your countrymen I may have caused.”

    And to “The Other Jim” ‘s various new replies above:

    I won’t try to sort through and parse whether you might be technically right on the more nuanced distinctions between a “culture” and a “nationality, ethnicity, or even religion”…

    suffice to say that this Discover Canada guide is explicitly written for newcomers to help them prepare for the citizenship test, and I daresay that for the majority of them, English is NOT the first language, and moreover, since the vast majority of uni-lingual English speakers probably don’t make those distinctions, either, your points are largely beside the point:

    which is, broad swaths of both the newcomers AND the more established immigrant communities some of these practices are associated with are likely to be needlessly offended by the word choice in the contested passage, which reflects almost as badly on us as it does on them

    “In Canada, men and women are equal under the law. Canada?s openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, ‘honour killings,’ female genital mutilation, forced marriage or other gender-based violence.”


    (both for its bullying and provocative nature, and for its hypocrisy in characterizing such a wide range of activities as only being from “other,” “barabaric” cultures — because in addition to the terrible record with regard to following-up on the violence and killings perpetrated against sex-trade workers, there is plenty of spousal abuse and gender-based violence perpetrated by native-born Canadians, and not only has it been tacitly condoned by the state since the arrest rates and convictions on it are so abysmal that a great many victims don’t even bother to report it, but some Conservative appointed judges even waive the sentence when there IS a conviction.


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