02.25.2014 12:30 PM

On judgment, and Trudeau’s apology – and you, dear reader

Since Justin Trudeau made a very bad joke about the Ukraine and Russia and the Olympics, on the weekend, folks have been weighing in on this web site. The vast majority have disagreed with my view that (a) he should have apologized and (b) he should have done so immediately.

I won’t name names, but to those commenters who aggressively defended what Trudeau said, I say: you are starting to resemble the Conbots you used to (rightly) condemn. You have fallen in love with the meat, as I sometimes indelicately put it, and that is a bad, bad thing.

Here’s what you owe Justin Trudeau, or any politician you work for/with: YOUR JUDGMENT. You owe them your view, honestly and clearly expressed. Not ass-kissing bullshit.

You want to know one of the principal reasons Conservatives are turning off Canadians? Because they treat every bit of dissent as treason. Because they never tolerate any disagreement, no matter how reasonably expressed. Because, intellectually, they are lemmings.

Don’t be a lemming: tell the truth. And when your leader screws up – and they all do, sooner or later – tell him or her the truth.

Don’t kiss their ass.



  1. Coelocanth_Jones says:

    I’m truthfully a little confused. You’re saying that nobody should kiss trudeau’s ass, but yesterday said that saying stupid things can be a winning political strategy. Both can be true, but where do you want people to put their chips?

  2. !o! says:

    awesome post. Needed to be said. Thank you.

  3. Matt says:

    Couldn’t agree more Warren. He made a stupid joke and he needed to rectify the situation. Leaders need honest feedback when they screw up, not yes men.

  4. Lance says:

    To me the litmus test for any political party supporter is when the leader makes a gaffe – “what would you say and how would you react if it were the other guy saying or doing it”?

    To the ones supporting and defending Trudeau unconditionally here – you KNOW what you’d be saying if Harper had said this.

    WK is right – “…….ass kissing bullshit”.

  5. Michael S says:

    Apology may not be enough, man.

    His joke pissed me off. It REALLY pissed me off. Even with his apology I’m still pissed off. I’m not sure if an apology is enough as it really makes him look like a lightweight idiot that can’t handle more than a pitcher of beer at the hipster Copacabana bar in the Plateau. What’s needed is deeds and actions, otherwise I’m still inclined to write him off as a total dunderhead. The old Ukrainian geezers that vote are going to be far less charitable than me.

    • Lance says:

      Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko, “You have to be extremely careful when you talk about 82 people who died fighting … for their future and everyone’s in danger, “[Trudeau’s] just sitting in a nice room, and talking about things in such a light manner; it’s just inappropriate.”

  6. frmr disgruntled Con now happy Lib says:

    He did the right thing…..albeit a tad late,imho……piss off the Ukrainian community in this country at your peril………

    I hope when he is in the HOC next, he will rise and apologize there too…..an occasional mea culpa is good for all leaders, M. Trudeau included……

  7. BR says:


    Well said Warren.

  8. Cameron Prymak says:

    Good counsel.

  9. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    The higher you move up the political food chain, the more it’s imperative that the individual is perceptive and not suffering from a tin ear.

    Some grasp the uptake quickly. Others, not. Unfortunately, Justin and Gerry Ritz were too slow in reacting to their respective gaffes.

  10. Paul Brennan says:

    was right thing , we all make mistakes, brave ones admit and fix or apologize – these are good traits for leader …those defeniding him in press looked bad – Garneau was on ..but as mentioned apology should have come sooner so messaging from party likely late …

  11. frmr disgruntled Con now happy Lib says:

    Wow…. even went to the Ukrainian Embassy and signed the book of condolences…….I’m impressed…..http://t.news.ca.msn.com/top-stories/justin-trudeau-says-hes-apologized-about-ukraine-joke

  12. PeggyW says:

    Being real is better than putting on a blue sweater.

  13. MississaugaPeter says:

    The problem is that I do not believe they were kissing anyone’s ass.


    I saw Trudeau in 2006 in Montreal (when he backed Gerard Kennedy). His name and great looks and charm was acknowledged by all. He has since added charisma. But there is an arrogance there as well. And those around him share this arrogance.

    I saw Silver (Telford’s husband) on Power and Politics last night arrogantly fighting and defending Trudeau, and all I could think was, “Liberal’s Pierre Poilievre”.

  14. WDM says:

    Not crippling, but the comments were an unforced error on Trudeau’s part. Brought up judgment questions (the biggest knock against him – fairly or unfairly) and was the only Liberal news item in the news cycle on Monday when they should have gotten a final day of post-convention coverage. Good on him for apologizing. Now it goes away rather than kicking around the rest of the week.

  15. steve says:

    The sixty thousand dollar wed free lunch will dwarf this story, and make better an much more phony apologies

  16. Elisabeth Lindsay says:

    It would have been SO much better if he had gone to the Ukrainian Embassy/Consul by himself. It looked as though he was being dragged to the Principal`s office by his Dad.

  17. Ryan Spinney says:

    Its to late for his apology to banish this rightway. If had apologized right away, maybe, but this looks like a relucate forced apology. Its dragged on another already, with Tim Harper writing about it.

    • Matt says:

      It doesn’t matter when the medis forgets about it. It matters when or if Ukrainian Canadians will forget about it. They are very proud of their homeland, and at one time (not sure if it still the case) Canada had the largest number of Ukrainians outside Ukraine.

      Ask Michael Ignatieff how referring to Ukrainians as “little Russians” worked out for him.

      • Michael S says:

        There are more Ukrainians in Russia, unsurprisingly, so Canada is third.

        Ignatieff still hasn’t been forgiven for the “Little Russians” quote, and he won’t be, being Czarist royalty and all that. Forget about it.

        His gaffe won’t be forgotten, it doesn’t work that way, but it will be forgiven if Trudeau pushes for Canada’s involvement in IMF aid, business loans, and perhaps a Canada/Ukraine Free Trade Agreement, or even the establishment of a Canadian University in Lviv or Kyiv that, amongst other educational offerings, focuses on constitutional law, opaque finances, civil society and training of law enforcement.

        Canada’s a polite civil society that has rule of law, even when our leaders aren’t the best. That’s our brand, and it’s a good one. We should export it.

  18. Matt says:

    The real question is does Trudeau rwally know WHY he is apologizing, or is he just doing what his handlers told him to do.

    And Marc Garneau REALLY didn’t help the situation Monday in his defense of Trudeau insisting repeatedly and angrily Trudeau had nothing to apologize for.

  19. Carey says:

    “Don’t be a lemming: tell the truth. And when your leader screws up – and they all do, sooner or later – tell him or her the truth.

    Don’t kiss their ass.”

    Warren, you are correct. You are also looking for a real change in Liberal culture.

  20. dave says:

    JT and all our political leaders better bone up on Eastern Europe, in particular, Ukraine, Poland, Russia and such. Some of the organized groups among the protestors are nasty characters, with nastier roots in the past century’s history.

    It is bizarre to see war mongering North American and EU politicians going to Ukraine, whipping up the opposition, and then righteously declaring that there should be no foreign interference in Ukrainian politics. It is hard to sort what is happening and who is enabling what, but there are plenty of information sources outside our cheerleading North American mainstream that are describing a variety of causes and motives.

    As for the waves of anti Russian stuff we have been getting, especially spiking around these Olympics, let me suggest what a Russian my age, his 70’s has seen and believes has happened to his homeland.

    He knows his father, uncles, cousins and neighbours bore the brunt of World War II. He knows that USSR put together a string of buffer states to prevent further western aggression (you really think the USSR did not know what people in power in England and USA were pushing for?) and that the west threatened USSR with nuclear weapons. He believes that the west surrounded USSR with nuclear missiles.
    He knows that after Chernobyl and Afghanistan the USSR dismantled the Warsaw Pact and the USSR, only to see NATO not only continue, but march closer to Russia’s western borders, and establish bases along the southern borders.
    He knows the west keeps claiming its weaponry on Russia’s western borders is aimed at somebody else.
    Now he sees Ukraine, after an apparently fair election, experience a west enabled and paid for coup, replacing the regime with a group friendly to EU and NATO.

    Do you really think that Russia is going to just curl up and watch the west tighten its noose?
    This is serious stuff going on.
    …and just who the hell is Baird working for?

    (Maybe reading Macmillan’s study of lead up to The Great War is making me nervous.)

    • Ottawa Civil Servant says:

      Completely one-sided version of a century of history.
      The refusal by the USSR, under Joseph Stalin (author of the Holodomor, murderer of 3.9 million Ukranians through enforced starvation) to release Eastern Europe from his grasp following WW2; the imposition of Communist governments in every Soviet “liberated” country, preceding the creation of NATO; the backing of every Communist and/or violent revolutionary dictatorship; te thumping by the Chairman of his shoe on the desk at the UN, screaming “We will bury you!” Never mind the human rights, pogroms and slave labour camps (gulags.) This is the USSR that bred ex KGB officer Putin.

      Whatever. The topic was the parochial and typically Canadian: A Trudeau said something dumb about a tragedy on the other side of the planet: Whatever shall we do?

  21. David says:

    It’s just a good thing for Conservatives that Marc Garneau didn’t become Liberal leader. Now they don’t have to spend money on attack ads: They just have to let Justin talk. Harper’s kids will finally get Christmas gifts this year and John Baird will be able to buy that new sweater he’s been eyeing.

  22. Theresa says:

    Given the controversy surrounding Justin Trudeau’s “joke”, I find it ironic that a business week journalist/editor would make the same association in the following article (Check out the picture caption). The article doesn’t go on to link the “humiliation” of the hockey loss to their position in Ukraine


  23. Les Voix says:

    Justin Trudeau is more of a celebrity fad than a serious politician, and weary Canadians are responding to his celebrity rather than his minimal political smarts. Backroom Liberal strategists must be in fear of the next 18 months going to October 2015.

    Do Justin’s gaffes reveal a flawed political mind, or is he the Liberal ticket to political survival based on his popularity amongst dazzled Canadians? Time will tell.

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