Let's have some respect

CHRIS MacLEAN  –  Nov 28, 2016

Since when did it become good form to spit on the coffin of anyone? Death is an opportunity to focus on the good in someone's life.

Justin Trudeau called former Cuban President Fidel Castro a "remarkable leader" in his condolences to the people of Cuba. No one can deny that description and, while many hated him, many also loved him.

Diplomatically, the Prime Minister acknowledged that although Castro was a "controversial figure", he is credited with improving health care and education in his country. Sending honest and carefully written condolences to the Castro family and members of the population who revered the late leader, does not equate to condoning the dictatorship nor the human rights violations against enemies of his regime. Trudeau did not applaud Fidel Castro, but he did recognize an iconic leader who personified a clash of ideologies.

How does one recognize an historic figure who has simultaneously been hailed as a liberator and condemned as a brutal dictator? Fidel Castro had an undeniable global impact – both good and bad. Indeed, history has, and will continue to judge Fidel Castro's time on this Earth, but any honest diplomat will agree with the importance of building goodwill in order to advance relations between countries. The death of such a leader is an opportunity to focus on the positives, turn a page, step into the light, and reach out to those lef.

The world seems to agree that Fidel's leadership was much more positive than the brutal dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista which he had overthrown. And so, it is reasonable for all Western nations to consider how to help set the stage for Raul Castro to continue with reforms he has been implementing for the people of Cuba.

In that light, I think it is irresponsible of opposition critic, Peter Kent, to describe Trudeau's response to the Cuban people as "ill-advised condolences." Since when are condolences "ill-advised"? Criticizing for the sake of political points (televised air time) is getting so tiresome.

Likewise, it is no surprise that Republicans are taking this opportunity to sharply criticize Trudeau in a way that can easily be traced back to their disapproval of Obama's effort to mend relations between their two countries.

Clearly, if Fidel Castro's leadership was less brutal than his predecessor, and he made significant improvements for his people, then he deserves some measure of respect, in death at least.