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Justin Trudeau
Photo by Rhonda Spivak

Photo by Rhonda Spivak



by Rhonda Spivak, November 3, 2010 reposted April 20, 2011





Justin Trudeau, the son of former Prime Minister Pierre  Elliot Trudeau was in Winnipeg recently at an event in support of Terry Duguid, Liberal candidate for Winnipeg South.


While in town, the thirty-eight year old Trudeau gave an exclusive interview to the Winnipeg Jewish Review.  Trudeau, a former teacher, is a Member of  Parliament for the Papineau riding of  Quebec, a riding where there is virtually no Jewish population. There is, however, a large Jewish population in the neighborhood Mount Royal riding, which is represented by Liberal MP and Former Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler. [ Prior to Cotler, the  former  MP for Mount Royal was the late Sheila Finestone and prior to her Justin's father Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, represented the riding from 1965 to 1984.]


Justin Trudeau is married to Sophie Gregoire, a former model and Quebec television host, and has two children, one of which was “born on my father’s birthday.” As Trudeau told the Winnipeg Jewish Review smiling, “I just bought a house in Irwin Cotler’s riding. He just got himself  more votes.”


 The following are two questions and answers from the interview [more of the interview will follow in a subsequent article].


SPIVAK: There are some who say the Harper government is too pro-Israel. How do you respond to that?


TRUDEAU:...There’s a distinction there that hasn’t been properly understood. There is being a friend to Israel and supporting Israel and.. being an ally and believing in Israel and defending Israel.


And then there is being Pro-Israel. Pro-Israel is a political statement and my biggest criticism of  the Harper government around this issue is that they have managed to make supporting Israel a Canadian political football, something to use to pressure other parties, when to my mind, no  political party should ever be considered anti-Israel. There are some parties that aren’t as good friends to Israel as others. But to try and use it as a wedge issue in Canada and a factor in Canadian politicking, saying that we’re better than you in our support of Israel, and dividing people that way, is for me not a way to really give service. Because what happens is even though you have plenty of people who are good Israelis who have criticisms and legitimate criticisms within a democracy to make of the current government in Israel... We’ve removed the possibility of even having a discussion around some of the strengths and perhaps some of the mistakes that the Israeli government does as a democracy that represents a number of people but there is an opposition always… We’ve managed to polarize the debate so much that we can’t actually have rational or reasonable conversations about it anymore. And I think that everyone loses in politics when everything becomes black and white.”


 SPIVAK: What do you think of controversy about building of the mosque near ground zero—what are your views on that? 


TRUDEAU: Listen, I haven’t been  following the debate except for very superficially and one of the things I abhor on this is it’s… been a question of massive polarization and it’s a question of people taking extreme positions and promoting fear and intolerance on that. I think if everyone were to take a serious reflection…There’s a difference between a mosque and an Al- Qaida Training Camp, and they are not proposing to set up an Al- Qaida Training camp… I think the American Constitution defending the freedom of religion is something, and I say this about the Canadian Charter of Rights all the time - it’s  not  a buffet, you don’t get to pick and choose  which ones you like and where you want to apply it to.


I think that there are sensitivities that are legitimate and need to be taken into account, but ..I know that the venom in this conservation, in the debate going on in the States  has done a disservice not just to Moslem Americans who are not extremists  but to Americans in general who are looking less like the great nation open and respectful of each other and their differences that they very much have aspired to be for a long time.


SPIVAK: You think the debate is showing some of the uglier aspects of…


TRUDEAU: Absolutely. It’s important to have a conversation because there is a tremendous opportunity when one chooses to build a mosque near ground zero, or a Muslim community centre or whatever. I’ve heard of various reflections on what the building is actually going to be. There’s an opportunity there to talk about the good things in Islam and to talk about the millions of Moslem Americans and Moslems around the world who are not believers in violence and extremism. Unfortunately, extremists in all religions tend to dominate the media airwaves because it makes for good T.V… and it doesn’t end up being a real service to the kind of open accepting  responsible democracies that we want to build.


[To compare Trudeau's views on the  mosque at ground zero with those of  Liberal Leader  Michael Ignatieff, see  the article below by Matthew Ostrove at the end of this article.] 




Trudeau also spoke of his visited to Israel on tour organized by the  Canada Israel committee when he was an official candidate for the  Liberal Party, prior to being elected. When asked about the trip, he said:


“It was amazing to see how small the country is, when you get around it and just how extra-ordinary life is there. It was a real pleasure for me to be there”


“I managed to meet with the president Shimon Peres who had known my father well and that was an extreme privilege. I got to meet  with  Members of Knesset and people from the [Israeli ]Foreign Ministry...I got to… talk about the challenges Israel is facing and the strength with which it has overcome so many of the  challenges of the past and the present.”



What about building  a Global Centre for Peace instead?

by Matthew Ostrove, August 31, 2010
The Winnipeg Jewish Review was invited to a press conference held by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff in the latter part of August while he was in Winnipeg.
I attended and took the opportunity to ask Ignatieff whether he supported the building of the controversial proposed  Mosque at Ground Zero near where the Twin Towers fell in the September 11 terrorist attack.
Ignatieff responded that he  would support the building of the Mosque and if any teachings of hatred towards other people were noticed, then he would call for further actions, including the closure of the  Mosque.
He said, "The downtown construction would lead to a faith based understanding and dialogue."
Ignatieff explained that many people of different faiths died on September 11, and therefore he would support the building of the Mosque to eliminate Islamaphobia.

While I certainly respect Mr. Ignatieff's position, my personal opinion is different than his stated position.
My personal opinion is that we should build a global temple where people can learn about all religions so that messages of peace, acceptance, and tolerance  of others could spread throughout the world. I believe that the twin towers when rebuilt should become a monument of peace and that a  Center For Peace situated where the Mosque was supposed to go ought to be built to showcase all religions not  only one religion. The goal of this proposed Centre For Peace would promote a message of tolerance and acceptance of all peoplesand work towards a world free of hatred and discrimination.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.