Putting Trudeau in the Penalty Box

Justin Trudeau got himself into trouble.

First he made a sly dig at the Russian’s poor showing in hockey at Sochi that somehow got translated into an insult to all Ukrainians.

Then he insulted all Canadians by saying, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

What? You didn’t hear him say that? You haven’t seen any reports about that unfortunate remark?

That’s because he didn’t say it.

Winston Churchill did.

But just imagine what the reaction would have been if Trudeau or Harper or any contemporary Canadian politician had proffered that insight about “average voters” being unfit for democracy.

(As for Churchill’s comments about “the faith of Islam,” well, we won’t even go there.)

Can we not let up on the constant sniping at our politicians and celebrities?

Must every comment and action be scrutinized and parsed to find some real or imagined flaw or insult ? Does everything anyone says or does in public have to be taken at its worst, then sanitized and sterilized?

I’m tired of the faux hurt feelings. I’m tired of everyone taking turns taking umbrage. And I’m tired of the incessant braying for apologies

It’s getting worse than when pre-schoolers watch eagerly for an opportunity to tattle on each other: “Justin said a bad word to me,” whines one child.

And the teacher chides “Naughty boy, Justin. Say you’re sorry to little Ashleigh.”

When Trudeau quipped about Russia being in a bad mood, there was no actual, immediate threat to Ukraine from its neighbor. Pundits on a radio talk show that’s less than serious were speculating on what could happen. Trudeau speculated with a timely touch of humour about hockey and geopolitics on the day Canada was celebrating winning the Olympic gold medal.

It’s not as if Russian tanks were already rolling through Ukraine, striking down protestors, politicians and peasants, demolishing homes and churches and Trudeau was suggesting it could only get worse because of the hockey loss. His remark was directed at the Russian psyche, made fun of it, in fact, and, in a way, made Russia seem ineffectual and petty. That’s something to apologize for?

Yes, public discourse needs to be civil and inclusive.

But let’s back off from finding fault as often as possible. Let’s remember that playing hockey is our national sport, not playing “gotcha.”