Justin Trudeau’s incessant contrition has been tiresome but, to this point, relatively benign
If you are a gay man or woman drummed out of the public service, the descendant of Sikhs turned away on the Komagata Maru, a survivor of Newfoundland’s residential schools or a member of the Tsilhqot’in First Nation, which saw six of its chiefs hanged in 1864, the prime minister’s rendering of a tear-stained formal apology may have offered some comfort.
But with news the government will formally apologize for Canada’s 1939 decision to turn away the MS St. Louis, a ship carrying 907 German Jews fleeing the Nazi regime, Trudeau has gone beyond merely apologizing for things that happened long before he was born.
This particular apology is being used to justify and exonerate current (failing) government policy on migrants crossing into Canada from the U.S.
Omar Alghabra, the parliamentary secretary to the trade minister, tweeted that Canada must reconcile its promotion of human rights globally with mistakes made at home. “We turned away asylum seekers without giving them due process and dignity. We must learn from our history.”
The tweet provoked a storm from people accusing him of making a direct historical comparison between the Holocaust and the fate facing today’s “irregular” migrants.
Alghabra denied he was equating the two but his insistence that “those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it” suggests he sees parallels.
Leaving aside the propensity of this government to use serial self-flagellation as an instrument of political image-management, this particular offering of remorse is designed to exploit a tragic moral failure by a previous government to bolster support for the appalling managerial shortcomings of this one.