Trudeau under fire for expressing admiration for China's 'basic dictatorship'
Published Friday, November 8, 2013 10:11PM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 8, 2013 11:22PM EST
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau met with criticism for the second time in as many days Friday, after telling a Toronto fundraising crowd that he admired China’s “basic dictatorship.”
Speaking to a sold-out crowd of women, Trudeau was responding to a question about which nation’s administration he most admired.
The Liberal leader said: “There’s a level of admiration I actually have for China because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to actually turn their economy around on a dime and say, ‘We need to go green … we need to start investing in solar.’”
His remarks became fodder for the Conservatives, who are already keeping close tabs on the leader’s record.
“Let me get this straight: He has talked about policy, He supports the status quo in the Senate. He supports dictatorship. He wants a carbon tax and he wants to legalize marijuana,” Conservative MP Paul Calandra said.
Alberta MP Tim Uppal, also a Conservative, suggested Trudeau’s comments “demonstrate he’s not fit to lead the greatest democracy in the world.”
Trudeau’s comments were also met with scorn by the New Democrats, who are fighting to defeat the Liberals in an upcoming byelection in Toronto Centre.
“I’m not a big fan of dictatorships, I rather prefer democracies,” NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said at a campaign event in Toronto Friday. “I don’t understand how someone can say that their favourite government is a dictatorship.”
Trudeau took to social media Friday to explain himself.
“I pointed out that globally, Canada is up against big countries (China, for one) that can address some major issues quickly,” he wrote on Twitter.
“It’s ridiculous for anyone to suggest that I of all people would trade our rights and freedoms for any other system of (government).”
Trudeau made the remarks during a ladies-only fundraiser billed as “Justin Unplugged,” which invited women “to (really) get to know the future prime minister.”
Prior to the event, some female MPs expressed their outrage over the ladies-only online invitation, calling it “stupid” and “demeaning.”
Late Wednesday evening, Conservative MP Michelle Rempel tweeted: “What’s the biggest issue facing women? This kind of crap. #allissuesarewomensissues #patronizing"
In a Facebook post, NDP Deputy Leader Megan Leslie said the event “isn’t just demeaning, it’s stupid.”
“Stupid stupid stupid. All issues are women's issues. And you know what, we can wear pants and drive cars and vote and have jobs and we can have political opinions. The economy is a women's issue, Justin. Health Care is a women's issue, Justin. And you know what? Keystone XL *ahem* is a women's issue.”
Using the Twitter hashtag, “ask Justin,” others took to Twitter to mock the evite and event.
“Dear Justin, Will the Keystone XL pipeline make my butt look fat? #askjustin,” wrote @tenzinster.
“#askjustin Have you ever tried an organic apple cider hair rinse?" wrote @chantalbraganza.
Organizers defended the event Thursday, saying it was intended to reach out to women who are not always politically engaged.
Liberal consultant Amanda Alvaro issued a statement saying the evite was designed to “elicit interest and intrigue” and not to evoke a standard political invitation.
The questions it posed “are not sexist questions. These are questions, among others, meant to provoke conversation and inspire interesting dialogue. The intent was not to offend anybody.”
Alvaro also said the invitation had been circulating for a month, and blamed the uproar over “partisan commentary” that came out over the last day.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Deputy Bureau Chief Laurie Graham