Rex Murphy: Trudeau Should Keep His Nose Out of Our Neighbour's Top Court Decisions

Rex Murphy: Trudeau Should Keep His Nose Out of Our Neighbour's Top Court Decisions
Capitol Police dressed in riot gear stand guard as activists react to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization case that overturns Roe v. Wade, in front of the court in Washington on June 24, 2022. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
Rex Murphy

From the far reaches of Rwanda’s capital city of Kigali, the prime minister of Canada swiftly offered his response to a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. He was even more swift in reaction than some American politicians, to whom of course the decision has actual relevance.

I know it is redundant and superfluous, and I have even said it before, but this point still deserves an underline. Almost every Canadian knows that the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court are not Canadian law. Know too that Canada has its own Supreme Court. It is only our prime minister who doesn’t seem to pay much attention to this key distinction. He was all over the same U.S. court when the matter of the June 24 decision on the extremely high-profile Roe v. Wade case was merely “leaked” a few weeks ago.

Not only was he swift. For a prime minister commenting on the judicial system of our closest neighbour and most powerful nation on earth (it remains that, though Mr. Biden is doing all he can to lose that status), Mr. Trudeau was also tendentious, if not positively inflammatory.

Politicians of one nation usually stay out of the politics of other nations. It’s a wise practice, though often abused (Obama endorsing Trudeau in our election is a good/bad example.) Each country has its own problems and its own jealously guarded jurisdiction. To wander into the thoughts and determinations of the highest court of another country, and especially our closest ally, is in principle and practice grossly out of line.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to questions flanked by Minister for Foreign Affairs Melanie July during a news conference in Kigali, Rwanda, on June 23, 2022. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to questions flanked by Minister for Foreign Affairs Melanie July during a news conference in Kigali, Rwanda, on June 23, 2022. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Inflammatory? Well, that certainly fits calling the court's overturning of Roe v. Wade “horrific.” Horrific to whom? Well, certainly to those most intensely committed to the cause of abortion. And they have every right to call it such, being the citizens who will feel its impact. But is it “horrific” to those who, with equal intensity, oppose abortion? Obviously not. This issue is not the axiomatic only-one-side-can-be-right, though all true progressives insist it is.

So the prime minister's comment was not only an unwarranted intrusion into another country’s constitutional practice; it was also lopsided, or more precisely, partisan. Mr. Trudeau, almost as if he were speaking to his own citizens, was solemnly empathetic (to one side). “My heart goes out to the millions of American women," he said on Twitter. "I can't imagine the fear and anger you are feeling right now.”

This has a virtuosic, almost Bill-Clinton-level-deployment of the “I feel your pain” formula. But it has other elements more disturbing than that.

It is obvious that the court's abortion decision will stir the hottest politics and the strongest reaction, and from some Democrats this is already apparent. Even before the decision was made public, abortion activist groups sent mobs to protest at the homes of some justices. A man with a knife and a gun declaring he “wanted to kill a specific supreme court justice” was arrested outside Justice Kavanaugh’s house barely two weeks ago. Following the ruling, police departments in major U.S. cities were monitoring extremist groups in preparation for potential violent protests.

In other words, this is not an issue that needs extra "stimulation" from anyone. This is not an issue on which to prime already-high emotions. Talk and expectations of violence are already being noted. Of all U.S. Supreme Court decisions for a foreign leader to stay away from, other than asking for calm and reason, this is the one.

Moreover—and this is really the point—are there not enough issues of Canadian origin, or Canadian concern, under Canadian jurisdiction, and susceptible to correction by the Canadian government, for the prime minister to attend to? He’s been quicker on the U.S. court's decision by far than on a host of matters that are actually his responsibility.

What about fixing the embarrassing passport mess? Canadian citizens looking to renew or obtain the most vital civic document are lining up at 1 a.m. in some cities, bringing tents to stay overnight and hold their place in the interminable lines. It is a scandal of pure incompetence in a 21st-century modern country. Pearson airport is, as one visitor accurately described it, a mess and a “hell.” It takes longer sometimes to get out of Pearson than to have your passport renewed.

Inflation is prodigiously increasing. Food prices are leaping higher than they have in years. Gasoline and fuel, basic commodities, are at their highest since the ’70s oil crisis. Then of course we have the issue of “interference” with the police forces, the allegation that the PMO and some ministers urged the RCMP commissioner to give direction to the investigators in Halifax on the dreadful mass murder from last year. Which came on the heels of the still-unjustified, still-unaccounted for declaration of the Emergencies Act, with its seizure of bank accounts and vast invasion of basic civil liberties. Should I mention huge deficits and our mad trillion-dollar national debt? Or the truly miserable state of our economy following the two-year and mismanaged COVID regime?

If Mr. Trudeau wishes to offer exhortations on issues, there’s a bucket of them right on his desk. Things he has control over. Issues in which and of which he is either the instigator or the subject of.

There is no call to parade, from Kigali, his liberal concerns over abortion as it is determined by U.S. law. Could it be that he prefers to distract from what he could and should be doing, by borrowing—if that’s the term—or drawing upon the passions that surround an issue in another country? It's far easier to moralize or preen on a U.S. issue than act and fix real ones at home.

In only one sense, and one sense only, politics is like charity. It begins at home. And it surely, unlike charity, must and should stay there.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.