, 08.06.2018 05:01 AM

Column: where was he?

Where was he?

The Prime Minister of Canada, I mean.  When Canada’s biggest city needed him – when the millions of people who live and work here were feeling anguished, and angry, and afraid – Justin Trudeau was AWOL.

He was gone.

A young girl, and a young woman, murdered in cold blood on Toronto’s Danforth Avenue.  A dozen more wounded and hurt, some critically, and in hospital.  Toronto has had a horrific Spring and Summer, with the van attack on Yonge Street, with children being shot in playgrounds, with an explosion in gun violence.

None of that, however, quite equalled the horror of the Danforth Avenue attack on hot Summer night.  Two children, out with family and friends, shot to death on a city street: it affected this place in a way that is hard to describe, and impossible to imagine.

Now, most Canadians don’t live in Toronto, of course.  So not every Canadian can be expected to completely comprehend the impact of the Danforth terror attack – because that’s what it was, really, because it terrorized so many.  It chilled the blood of this city.  It left people breathless, like the very air was running out.

A vigil was held.  Hundreds showed up.  Among them were Toronto’s mayor, John Tory, and Ontario’s Premier, Doug Ford.

Justin Trudeau?  He had sent out a couple tweets, one in English, one in French.  But he didn’t show.

He was on vacation.

People noticed.  People talked about it.  People – included Liberal and liberally-minded people – shook their heads.  People got mad.

Because here’s the thing:  if you think that Justin Trudeau isn’t good at anything at all – economics, policy, foreign affairs, trade, defence, whatever – there is one thing we all know that he is really, really good at.  There is one thing he excels at.  And that is the so-called retail part of politics.

You know: showing up.  Hugging people.  Shaking hands, smiling, looking in their eyes and making them feel like they are important.  Justin Trudeau is good at that stuff.  Really good.

After the Danforth attack, when this rollicking, noisy, diverse city was wounded – when it was laying in the dirt, gasping – we needed Justin Trudeau.  We needed him to show up, and listen, and put his arms around the city.  Because that is the one thing, above all things, at which he is without equal.  He’s the best at that.

On social media, the usual suspects attacked him for having too many vacations.  They attacked him for surfing out in Tofino.  They attacked him for being not there, even though they would still attack him if he was there.

His supporters, meanwhile, also took to social media.  He deserves a vacation with his family, some said, and they were right.  “Damned if he shows up, damned if he doesn’t,” they intoned, all King Solomon-like, and they were wrong.  Because that’s crap.  It’s bogus.

I worked for a Prime Minister.  The job description is vast.  The responsibilities are endless.  But right at the very top of the list is this: to give comfort to the afflicted.  To console the grieving.  To soothe the fearful.  To give hope and help a wounded city get through it all.

He didn’t.

When the full extent of his error became known to he and his advisors, of course, he eventually made his way here on a Challenger jet.  He went to the funeral of the 18-year-old, Reece Fallon, and spoke to people afterwards.  Some asshole heckled him, but Trudeau didn’t lose his cool.  He spoke well.  He was there, finally.

But too many days had gone by.  And, for too many Torontonians, showing up so late reminded them that he hadn’t been there when he was needed the most.  It reminded them that he was absent when a big, grieving city wanted to hear from him.

Will any of it be remembered in the way that the disastrous Indian trip will be remembered?  Maybe not.  Will it hurt him in the way the Aga Khan and the groping mess hurt him?  Probably not.

But down here in a city that matters – a city that should matter politically to him, too – his absenteeism is unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon.  This is now a mark on Justin Trudeau’s permanent file, right down here in Toronto.

Where was he?  We wanted him here.

And he just wasn’t.


  1. John Mraz says:

    This of course is a moral conundrum. Show up and dignify the catamite, or don’t and insult the aggrieved.

    Surf’s up. JM

    • Walter says:

      To me, the solution is to get back to work.

      Breaking a vacation to attend the funeral and returning to vacation looks really bad.

      Breaking vacation to return to Ottawa – work on the trade file, work on the security file, and then attend funeral and then continue to work would show a PM who cares.

    • Kevin says:

      “Catamite” – those are the ones that hang from the ceiling, right?

  2. Anne Peterson says:

    And where is he now, when BC is burning and northern Ontario is burning.

  3. Bill H says:


    Gerald Butts (PM’s puppet master) is doing his level best to keep Justin Trudeau out of harms way in the lead-up to the next election. The Toronto shooting got in the way of his plan, and the liberals got caught left footed not knowing what to do. Trudeau may be good at the crocodile tears, but there’s been over exposure to them, and frankly, people see him now as the fake he is. In other words, for them (Trudeau liberals) it’s all about politics all the time. Fake outrage with Saudi Arabia is hoping to bring Trudeau some kind of Super Man status defending human rights in some far-off land, meanwhile, Rome is burning. Toronto’s killing of two beautiful young lives, and Trudeau & Co. mishandling of what should have been the right thing to do, is just one more self inflicted wound that hopefully will not be forgotten come election day. Trudeau should have been in Toronto right after the shooting, but he attracts his circus clowns that turns every appearance into a selfie fest. Unlike a real statesman (or would that be a statespeopleperson) who would have arrived in Toronto soon after, dignified, respectful and secondary to the event. Trudeau’s team only know how to be the event. Trudeau, no doubt, disrespected the families of all of the victims, and the people of Toronto and Ontario and by extension, all of Canada. He never will be ready!

  4. Hal Hennessey says:

    The Quebec Mosque shooting took place on January 29, 2017. The next day, January 3oth, PM Justin Trudeau & his wife Sophie lead the mourners in a walk of silence to the site of the attack, following the usual speeches by politicians etc.
    Personally I think that citizens particularly in Toronto and the Danforth area have every right to question what was the difference between the Quebec City and Danforth attacks? Was it simply that the PM couldn’t be bothered to make the trip because he was on vacation?

    • Peter says:

      But that’s the problem, isn’t it? Warren is right that modern leaders are expected to “console the grieving”, etc. but in these days of frequent public mourning and vigils, it can turn into a competition over whose grief is more deserving of the prime ministerial presence and consolation, and spawn unseemly controversy over the political significance of a presence or absence. It’s like lowering the flag, which used to be done rarely according to strict protocol but has now become a part of the public mourning process. The PM is not our Head of State and his job entails more than ceremonial duties.And he’s definitely not the Therapist-in-Chief.

      Speaking of which, where is or was the GG? I haven’t heard a peep from her since the controversy over her investiture.

      • Hal Hennessey says:

        I’m still not understanding the difference between going to Quebec City and Toronto. Would hate to think the growing importance of holding the Liberal vote in Quebec or an upcoming by-election there in 2018 played a part.

      • Bill H says:


        Our “Therapist-in-Chief” actually does see himself in that roll. He see himself as the Figurehead of everything that’s progressive, rainbows and unicorns and well above the common man…oops peoplekind. Maybe more of a Saviour-in Chief with the odd grope thrown in. Even the left leaning G&M have him figured out – and that was before the infamous India trip! https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/justin-trudeau-a-disengaged-prime-minister/article37458899/

        • Peter says:

          Fair enough. He talks the talk so he should walk the walk. But do any of those people complaining that he slighted Toronto or the victims actually believe his presence would be a sincere expression of grief? Or does that matter these days?

          • Bill H says:


            There nothing that Trudeau does that isn’t orchestrated. He doesn’t have a sincere bone in his body – and that smirk he has on his face…… ! So you’re probably right in one respect, his presence would upset some, if not many. My point is Great leaders do Great things in bad times that unite people. Our Boy Blunder pours gas on the fires of both those who like him and those who don’t. He’s the most divisive PM I ever lived under, with the exception to his father. A Great leader would be quietly calming – he’s not capable. Let’s toss him to the curb in 2019.

  5. Lino says:

    I am not a Liberal supporter; but, he is our Prime Minister until at least October 2019. What is disappointing is the absence of leadership and the denouncement of a domestic terrorist attack. The Optics are bad and I don’t believe they will bode well for Justin Trudeau the federal liberals next election.

  6. Lino Iapaolo says:

    I am not a fan or supporter of the federal and provincial Liberal Party. Two Sundays ago a domestic terrorist attack occurred on Danforth Avenue and our prime minister was MIA.

    If this was an event of any sort that happened towards the Muslim Community God forbid, I believe the double standard here would have been exposed for what it is.

    Regardless of what party one supports, citizens expect no they demand leadership from their head of state and that was just plain absent. I have one comment for this and that is disgraceful.

  7. Matt says:

    Which Warren clearly points out in the article.

    But it was over a week after the incident.

    For some perspective, Trudeau (and the other federal party leaders) were in Quebec attending a vigil for the victims of the mosque shooting the day after it happened.

  8. ABB says:

    What about this *hitstorm with Saudi Arabia. What is JT going to say about this! Now the Saudis appear to be threatening a 911 style attack in Toronto:

    • Walter says:

      I wonder if this is just Trudeau picking an international fight to try to rally the Patriotism vote? He did the same with the USA trying to rally the anti-Trump vote.
      Maybe Saudi is the “wrong type” of Muslim, so Trudeau doesn’t need to appeal to them for votes.

      • Fred from BC says:

        No, this is just another of his ill-conceived attempts to impose his SJW agenda on a country that has no tolerance for being lectured by the Little Potato on human rights. Worse yet, other Middle Eastern countries have now come out in support of Saudi Arabia and have angrily warned against Canadian interference in their own internal affairs.

        I’m not about to defend the Saudis or any other Middle Eastern nation (except Israel, of course) on their human rights record, but it is *not* Canada’s place to get involved in this. Not at all. Trudeau seems to have a wildly inflated view of Canada’s importance on the world stage…or is it just that, being a ‘progressive’, he really can’t understand why everyone else doesn’t see things his way?

        Can’t wait to see what our next international embarrassment looks like…

        • Ronald O'Dowd says:


          Got to call BS. I can remember a PM who interfered mightily in Iranian affairs, who severed diplomatic relations and closed the embassy. Nation-states are, at best, full-blown hypocrites.

          • Bill H says:


            I call double BS if there’s such a thing, Our present PM would like to renew ties with Iran, with the aim to cosy up to the largest State Sponsor of Terrorism the world. Our last PM as you rightly pointed out severed all ties with Iran – why?

            We’ve had at least two canadians die in Iranian jails with barely a whimper from Trudeau – now he’s picked a fight with Saudi Arabia for his feminist causes. This will not end well.

            Trudeau (Butts) is ruining Canada one gaffe at a time.

          • Fred from BC says:

            It’s a bit of a stretch, though, to equate facilitating the slaughter of Syrian civilians, threats against Israel, an attack on a British embassy, ongoing efforts to build nuclear weapons and overt support for terrorist groups worldwide with, “we don’t like it when you arrest your political protesters”, don’t you think?

            One Prime Minister took measures in response to significant actions and threats, one was just virtue-signaling (again).

          • doconnor says:

            Saudi Arabia is currently slaughtering civilians in Yemen, are currently threatening Qatar and much of the support for ISIS came from them.

          • Ronald O'Dowd says:


            Frankly, we can both go back to Kazemi’s murder in 2003. Quite obviously, Chrétien must have taken a stand but the Iranians – – like the Saudis – – fear not, but Canada must and should be counted. Agree with the CPC on China. Obvious double standard which is patently unacceptable.

          • Ronald O'Dowd says:


            I strongly support the JPCOA. But that doesn’t make Iran angels, nor remove their status as fomenters of terrorism.

            But a head of state or government has a sacred responsibility not to go needlessly to war, as Bush and Blair did in Iraq. All those people died for nothing. Hussein could have been removed short of that. So Trudeau or Harper have to say is it war or something else? I’m for the latter but will never delude myself. Even under the Iran deal, they will cheat at every opportunity. Trump is finding that one out with the kDPRK. Nuclear weapons are defensive life insurance. We in the West did zip with India and Pakistan and stark sane reality requires us to ultimately do the same with North Korea and Iran.

      • Montréalaise says:

        I have to wonder what in the world Freeland hoping to accomplish with those tweets? Did she really believe the Saudi government could be publicly shamed into improving its abysmal record on human rights? How could she not foresee that this would be the outcome?

        • Matt says:

          I seriously doubt anyone in this current version of the Liberal Party of Canada give much thought or consideration to the consequences of their self important, holier than thou tweets.

          • Ronald O'Dowd says:


            I can remember some holier than thou rhetoric coming out of the Harper government vis-à-vis Israel. There is no shining city on a hill in the Middle East.

        • Ron Benn says:

          Minister Freeland has frequently been called a “star” in PM Trudeau’s cabinet. Why?

          On the plus side, our relationship with Russia is at a low, but given the imperialist ambitions of President-for-life Putin, that isn’t a bad thing.

          She hasn’t produced much in the way of results on the NAFTA file, and while re-active tariffs may have scored political points, they have created problems for Canadian businesses and consumers.

          Our constant pandering to China, notwithstanding its disregard for human rights is hypocritical, at least when compared to her Saudi tweets. Finally, since when did Twitter become the official channel of diplomatic communications with a foreign power?

          As for the answer on why the media consider her a top cabinet performer, it may be a combination of a lack of meaningful competition (Morneau’s fumbling of Finance is not something one should strive to merely beat) and her prior career as a journalist. Journalists, like lawyers, are a self congratulatory lot.

          • Barn E. Rubble says:

            RE: Ron
            “. . . Finally, since when did Twitter become the official channel of diplomatic communications with a foreign power? . . .”

            Exactly. It’s the official channel of diplomatic communications for twits. Perhaps Prez. Trump challenged us to out twit him. They’re certainly trying hard to . . . as hard as that challenge would be to beat.

          • Fred from BC says:

            “Minister Freeland has frequently been called a “star” in PM Trudeau’s cabinet. Why? ”

            I’m going to guess that it is because when compared to McKenna, Monsef, Chagger and Hadju she *is* a star. She has more education and accomplishments to her name than the last three combined (I don’t know much about Climate Barbie). This is why ‘gender balancing’ your cabinet is a really, really BAD idea. MP’s with vastly more experience and expertise were passed over simply because they were male, and that’s just dumb (and sexist, too).

            “Our constant pandering to China, notwithstanding its disregard for human rights is hypocritical”

            I’ve always said this. The Chinese are openly hostile to the western world. They threaten us and overtly steal our technology and information, and we all turn a blind eye to it because we are making a fortune selling them stuff and and having them cheaply manufacture our own retail goods. Problem is, they are using most of the money they make from us to not to improve the lives of their own people, but to fund a huge military expansion…and no one sees a problem with that? Just wait until they start backing up their territorial claims with military force…

          • Ronald O'Dowd says:


            Freeland is the exact opposite of Trump. Nuff said.

            She’s got my vote in the next leadership race.

        • doconnor says:

          Maybe they where trying to keep them from being tortured.

          • Bill H says:


            Best way for those in the Saudi correction system not to get tortured is not go there in the first place. Saudi Arabia operates much the same as any other sovereign country, they have rule of law – their laws grant you, but not to be taken lightly regardless. Why was Freeland/Trudeau sticking their noses into someone else’s business. Here’s the thing, the Saudi’s don’t like our laws any more than we like theirs. When did you last read a tweet from them in their disappointment of our laws? Hope this help you understand?

          • doconnor says:

            BillH, I understand that if you are facing a dictatorship, you won’t stand in its way.

        • Ronald O'Dowd says:


          MBS is like the splendid wrapped gift you get at Christmas. Once you unwrap it, you are likely clearly disappointed. Women driving is for show. What he’s really about is consolidating royal family power and remaining in the good graces of Wahhabism. A proponent of pluralism and democracy he’s not. Ottawa knows that.

  9. Bill H says:

    Dear Mr. Trudeau, Ms. Freeland:

    So, Canada finds itself in yet another dispute with a foreign country over pure arrogance and virtue signaling – way to go!

    Let’s see – India, China, United States of America, Japan, The Philippines and now Saudi Arabia = over half the world’s population – staggering!

    I get that you would like to change the channel on the total mess, your liberal government is of running Canada.

    Trudeau/Butts ruining Canada one gaffe at a time!

    We are now a laughing stock all over the world. The Butts of every joke…….so to speak!

    Mr. Trudeau and Ms. Freeland: “Sometimes it’s better to say nothing, and have people suspect you’re a fool, than open your *twitter account* and remove all doubt”

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:


      We don’t live in a say nothing world. That’s why we have the GRU to keep us company. It’s give as good as you get going forward. That’s the new world order. Welcome, to diplomacy 2018!

  10. Sean says:

    He’s never around. Is he offering leadership over the Saudi crisis? Has he even tweeted about it?

    Standing tall when the shit hits the fan isn’t what Trudeau’s about. Being admired by bird brains is.

    • Montréalaise says:

      I hear the surfing in Tofino is really good at this time of year. Surely you don’t expect him to cut short his vacation just because the government is facing (yet another) crisis of its own making? After all, it’s not as if he’s the leader of the country or anything … oh, wait a minute….

  11. Bill H says:


    Unfortunately for all of us, YOU do not understand! Dictators can be seen under every bed. Now run along like a good little progressive – there’s a leftist cause hiding under every bush just waiting for you. Have fun….

    • Art says:

      Typical smug conservative know nothing.

      • Bill H says:


        If you’re looking for smugness, you and Trudeau would would fit the bill – perhaps a picture perfect selfie with Trudeau’s infamous smirk.

        Art, how are you so sure I “know nothing’ – because you know it all? Empty Vessels, my friend!

  12. Peter says:

    It’s not that simple. You are right that there is no shortage of targets for human rights protests and I can’t decided exactly where Saudi Arabia, which has been an authoritarian theocracy since the year dot, fit in on the international scale of oppressions. Not as high as many others, I think, but protesting human rights abuses is an honourable Canadian tradition that isn’t always futile and can actually save lives. It is not just a leftist cause, or shouldn’t be. However, it’s not a cost-free game and we’d better be prepared to be selective and pay for our principles. What bothers me here is the deer-in-the-headlights actions of the Canadian government, which seems surprised to learn the whole world doesn’t embrace our superior morality.. First we put out a drive-by tweet (“Twitter–bringing people together the world over”) that is designed more to please Canadian women’s groups than influence the Saudis. When the Saudis react just as they have done to others, Freeland pronounces herself “comfortable” with our position and repeats pious bromides about women’s rights. Meanwhile, we all hold our breaths over the General Dynamics contract. Boy, there’s a resounding call-to-battle for women’s rights. If we feel that strongly about it, why weren’t we the ones who recalled the ambassador and announced commercial consequences? It’s so JT, isn’t it? Maybe he should tweet at the Saudis that hate is not the answer. That’ll show them.

    If we’re going to have a foreign policy based on promoting human rights, is it too much to ask that we think it through beforehand, target countries where we may have some influence, keep it out of social media and be prepared for hostile or punitive responses? If we’re just going to behave like the annual convention of the United Church passing endless righteous resolutions to please domestic activists, we’ll end up with much the same level of influence in the international community.

    • Fred from BC says:

      “What bothers me here is the deer-in-the-headlights actions of the Canadian government, which seems surprised to learn the whole world doesn’t embrace our superior morality..”

      That’s it, in a nutshell. Our Prime Minister seems to have a really simplistic, child-like view of the world. His advisers should be disabusing him of these notions and giving him a crash course in cold, hard reality.

      Someone on this site opined recently (perhaps you?) that people run for office thinking that once in government they can do “magical things” with the stroke of a pen. Then they get elected. Then reality sets in.

  13. Kevin says:

    Oh dear God. This is beyond belief.

    A nation’s sovereign affairs are its own business. Dallaire should have kept his bloody mouth shut. And if I don’t want to be loaded into a boxcar I should avoid countries where that’s apt to happen….

    About JT not attending the memorial service for the Danforth victims (remember that?). A bad decision, yes. But I suspect if he had gone, those looking to find fault would be complaining about inappropriate socks or something.

    • J.H. says:

      He loves his sox N selfies & so do his MSM pals, so that wouldn’t be a problem. They mostly concentrate on that type of shite anyway. As for Danforth, he didn’t seem worries about complaints when he rushed to Quebec City immediately after the Mosque shooting. That was appropriate behavior for a leader . And it didn’t hurt that it was his home base.

    • Art says:

      Exactly right Kevin.

  14. Matt says:


    And now the Trudeau Liberals are looking to our allies to bail them out of this Saudi mess Freeland created with her tweets:


    You can’t make this shit up.

    • Art says:

      She created no mess, she stood up for human rights against a backwards country. Tell us you’ve done to improve the world and taking cheap shots from behind your keyboard doesn’t count.

      • Matt says:

        Yeah, sure.

        Let’s see how long they trumpet “human rights” in their pursuit of a trade deal with China.

        The Trudeau Liberals don’t seem to concerned in “human rights” with their push to re-establish relations with Iran.

        • Bill H says:

          Agreed, Matt:

          How many 10’s of thousands of dollars did he accept from the Chinese for cash for access and the Trudeau Foundation? Fawned over Castro who killed thousands in Cuba and zero human rights.

          Trudeau is playing yet another dangerous game with the Canadian economy. Picking a fight he cannot possibly win to appeal to his fawning fans and change the channel on his miserable stewardship of Canada. Wait til SA pull the LAV contract, 20,000 students, resident doctors and shut down oil supply to the east coast refineries – including Quebec. Energy East?

          If he’s such a feminist, why hasn’t he taken responsibility for groping the young journalist, and step aside for a female replacement?

          • Art says:

            You sound like a real chickenshit Bill. You don’t think Canada can stand up to a backwards thinking Saudi Arabia? You and Matt are the empty vessels on this site. Do you remember Trudeau annihilating Harper and Mulcair in the debates. Look for more of that next election. In the meantime do your yapping in front of the mirror, at least one person will give a shit what you’re saying.

  15. Fred from BC says:

    Someone needs to get Junior a t-shirt that says “Pick Your Battles”.

    • doconnor says:

      So only point out human rights violations of dictatorships that are unfriendly to the US, like Iran, and leave friendly dictatorships alone.

      • Fred from BC says:

        Well, yes…that’s how it has worked so far, if modern history is any guide.

        ( we non-NDP types who are forced to dwell in the real world recognize this as being pragmatic. We call it ‘politics’.)

        But as usual, you managed to miss my point entirely.

        He should have paid attention to current events and maybe watched a news show or two (or paid attention at some of his briefings). That way he might have known that Saudi Arabia would *not* react well to this, especially coming from him.

  16. Bill H says:


    Spoken like a true Liberal. Surprised you are not calling me a Nazi, un-Canadian or a denier. Listen to me Art – you’re some tough cookie behind your keyboard, aren’t you – another lefty trait. You cannot debate so you attack and call people names. When you have something sensible or constructive to say, then I’ll be happy to have courteous discourse with you. Until then, keep banging your head inside that Empty Vessel you’re hiding in. Is that Trudeau or Butts I hear whistling for you?

    • Art says:

      Oh no’s, I feel so chastened. I learned a long time ago that there’s no point trying to talk sense with you righties. Like I said, try the mirror. You’ll win every argument.

      • Bill H says:

        I don’t suffer fools lightly. You Sir, are about the most foolish person I’ve had the misfortune to meet on-line. You win, you can’t debate and ignorance is bliss. I have no argument with you – I wish you a good life.

        • Art says:

          In spite of the fact that you are a sanctimonious fool, I wish you a good life too. Good luck with that.

          • Bill H says:

            “Sanctimonious” wow Art – that’s a BIG word for someone with microcephaly.

            See, there you go again, calling people names – a bit of a wannabe Bully aren’t you. Were you mistreated in kindergarten – or have you not graduated from there yet? You just can’t help yourself, can you.

            Hurry up – there’s Trudeau whistling on you again. Run along like a good boy.

  17. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    The bus attack in Yemen puts this story in a different light, doesn’t it? To almost paraphrase Her Majesty, it should make one of our less sympathetic correspondents reassess their initial judgment on Freeland’s actions. Or at least, one would hope it would.

    • Art says:

      To hear the chickenshit conservatives dump crap on Trudeau and seem to side with the backwards thinking, chauvinistic and warlike Saudi’s pretty much says it all. Sad.

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