“That's not how we do things in Canada,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared.
The Canadian leader was asked to weigh in on U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial tweets telling four congresswomen of colour to "go back" to where they came.
But among the diverse array of responses online to the Trudeau’s comment is a prominent chorus of Canadians pointing out that racism and misogyny are very much alive in Canada.
Trump tweeted on Sunday that Democratic representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts should stop telling U.S. government officials how to govern the country and “go back” to their countries of origin.
So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2019
....and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2019
The viciousness of the comment, and the fact that three four of the four women were born in America triggered an avalanche of criticism both in the U.S. and beyond.
Trump responded to widespread charges that his tweets were racist and inappropriate by accusing the representatives of hating Israel with a “true and unbridled passion” on Sunday and and insisting that they should apologize to him, the U.S. and Israel for their “foul language” on Monday.
Ocasio-Cortez recently triggered a debate with her description of Israel’s presence in the West Bank, a landlocked Palestinian territory, as an “occupation,” and Omar has been accused of U.S. lawmakers of using anti-semitic tropes when defending her position on the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which she says funds Republican support for Israel.
During a press conference later on Monday with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Trudeau denounced the tweets.
"I think Canadians and indeed people around the world know exactly what I think about those particular comments,” he said.
“That is not how we do things in Canada. A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian. The diversity of our country is actually one of our greatest strengths and a source of tremendous resilience and pride for Canadians and we will to continue to defend that.”
The statement prompted a flood of commentary by twitter users who argued that not only do racism and misogyny exist in Canada, they have been perpetuated by various Canadian governments throughout the country’s history.
Some users alluded to genocide committed by the government against Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, while others brought up the departure of two female members of Trudeau’s cabinet following the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
No. In Canada we commit genocide. But we smile while we do so, so it’s okay.— Jim Roberts (@MetisJim) July 15, 2019
Canada lies, lies, lies.
That kind of talk has been in Canada since I was knee high to a grasshopper! And to this day folks still get told to go back where they came from. It just shows how out of touch with reality he is. Racism is very much alive and well in Canada just apparently the elite ignore it.— Gnameless 🇨🇦 (@garden_nome1) July 15, 2019
Trudeau may love to virtue signal over something Trump said. Do not forget though how he treats women who stand up to him in his own party.— Larry Dallas (@I_amLarryDallas) July 15, 2019
There were many who said they were grateful Trudeau spoke up though, including Twitter users who identified as American.
Trudeau isn’t the only leader to have condemned Trump’s comments over the weekend.
British Prime Minister Theresa may also called the comments “completely unacceptable.”
Proud of my Prime Minister. I hope a greater number of credible international leaders speak up— Ken Quinn (@kwquinn) July 15, 2019
In Canada we try to treat all people with respect. We are not perfect, but then again we are not like the United States. Let's keep it that way.— Sue Hutchinson (@rangerwyld) July 15, 2019
I really, really want to move to Canada.— Cat (@Redskin_girlnm) July 15, 2019
Pls come to America we need a sensible adult in charge— Macho Sadness (@RadDad0306) July 15, 2019
On July 16, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to officially condemn the Trump’s comments as racist.
“Every single member of this institution, Democratic and Republican, should join us in condemning the president’s racist tweets,” the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said as the House debated the motion.
“To do anything less would be a shocking rejection of our values and a shameful abdication of our oath of office to protect the American people.”
Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley and Tlaib were all born in the U.S., while Omar is a naturalized American citizen. She moved to America at a young age as a refugee fleeing Somalia.
Trump’s tweets came days after three of the four women testified about the conditions they witnessed at U.S. southern border facilities during visits to the facilities earlier in July.
They also come amid a rift between Pelosi and the congresswomen stemming from Pelosi’s apparent effort to minimize Ocasio-Cortez’s influence over the party.
In one of his tweets over the weekend in which Trump implored the women to go back to where they “came from” Trump added, “you can't leave fast enough. I'm sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!"