Harper uses Boston terrorist attack as opportunity to attack Trudeau

Julian Wolfe
April 17th, 2013

Two days after Conservative ads were deemed to be failed, Prime Minister Stephen Harper took it upon himself to use the Boston Marathon terrorist attack as an opportunity to attack Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.  The bombing led to 3 deaths, including that of an eight year old boy. Harper made the comments unprompted at Margret Thatcher’s ceremonial funeral in England. Trudeau accused Harper of politicizing a tragedy.

Trudeau responded to the Boston attack offering his condolences on Monday.

“I was shocked and saddened to hear of the explosions that occurred today at the Boston Marathon.

During what was an event worthy of celebration for thousands of people – including many Canadians – this senseless act of violence has left us reeling.

My thoughts and condolences are with all those in Boston at this time, especially the victims and their families.”

Harper’s statement responds to a segment of a CBC interview with Trudeau where Peter Mansbridge asked him how he would deal with a terrorist attack should one happen in Canada.

“We have to look at the root causes,” Trudeau said. “Now, we don’t know now if it was terrorism or a single crazy or a domestic issue or a foreign issue.

“But there is no question that this happened because there is someone who feels completely excluded. Completely at war with innocents. At war with a society. And our approach has to be, where do those tensions come from?”

Harper responded today, to the small segment about ‘root causes,’ unprompted, “When you see this type of violent act, you do not sit around trying to rationalize it or make excuses for it or figure out its root causes. You condemn it categorically, and to the extent you can deal with the perpetrators, you deal with them as harshly as possible.”

Trudeau has since responded, criticizing Harper’s attack as politicizing of a disaster.

“I expressed clearly yesterday and today the shock that I can only imagine that father feels whose son was killed for wanting to give him a hug,” Trudeau said.

“I really hope that Mr. Harper rethinks the extent and the lengths he’s willing to go to personally attack people and to politicize tragedies like that.”

The controversy made its way to CBC’s Power and Politics where both the NDP and Conservatives decided to attack the Liberals for Trudeau’s statement – which is no surprise considering recent polling trends.

The previous attack tried to paint Trudeau as a man without proper judgement and claimed he “was in way over his head.” The attack took various clips of Trudeau out of context, including one of a charity event which prompted negative response. As a result, the Liberals released a fundraising email blast where Trudeau said:

“The Conservatives are already back in the gutter. Now they’re using pictures from a charity fashion show to attack me and undermine what we’ve built… They’ve seen what we can do and they’re desperately trying to drown us out with the childish, food-fight politics.”

The response email raised $336,000 in the last 48 hours, which is more than double what it got in previous campaigns. The Liberal email blast also asked its members to donate to the Canadian Liver Foundation which got $10,000 in the last 48 hours as well.

It is unfortunate that the Conservatives have nothing better to do than politicize tragedies and Harper’s remarks are crystal clear. Unprompted, Harper chose to take a standard statement about law enforcement and condolences and turned it into a direct political attack. In addition to Harper’s judgement on how to deal with terrorists abroad, the NDP joined the Conservative chorus, hoping to regain political points they’ve lost. It seems that the attack which proved Harper was in over his head earlier this week weren’t enough to paint a picture. Instead, now we see that Harper is in way over his head with his hatred toward Trudeau, so much so that an unfortunate tragedy became a personal political attack.

What do you think of Harper’s judgement? Was his unprompted statement justified or just an opportunistic approach to gauge in political warfare?

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