OTTAWA — The Conservatives took aim at Justin Trudeau on Monday for his weekend tongue-in-cheek remarks linking the upheaval in Ukraine to Russia’s Olympic hockey humiliation.
“So Justin Trudeau, whose favourite regime is ’the basic dictatorship of China,’ thinks the deadly crisis in Ukraine is a laughing matter,” Employment Minister Jason Kenney wrote in a tweet.
Industry Minister James Moore also took to Twitter to draw attention to Trudeau’s joke on Radio-Canada’s “Tout Le Monde en Parle” on Sunday night. “Tout Le Monde en Parle” is a humour-infused current events program.
Citizenship Minister Chris Alexander also criticized Trudeau when speaking to the media outside of the House of Commons.
“This is another case of the Liberal leader simply showing bad judgment, saying foreign policy … could be determined by one country’s mood after losing a hockey game,” he said.
The NDP, meantime, posted a YouTube video of Trudeau’s comments.
At the end of a big Olympic hockey weekend, in which the Canadian men’s team took home gold following a win over Sweden, Trudeau was asked about the situation in Ukraine and the prospect of Russian involvement.
Trudeau, consistently ahead of the Tories and the NDP in public opinion polls, joked that Russia could be fuming after being eliminated late last week from the Olympic medal round.
“It’s very worrisome,” Trudeau said after telling the panel that he now considers Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to be illegitimate. “Especially since Russia lost in hockey, they will be in a bad mood. We are afraid of a Russian intervention in Ukraine.”
“Only because of hockey?” the show’s host, Guy A. Lepage, asked Trudeau.
“No,” Trudeau replied. “It is an attempt to bring a light view of a situation that is extremely serious.”
Yanukovych is in hiding, his regime in tatters, following months of pro-Western protests in Ukraine.
Liberal MP Marc Garneau chided the Conservatives for their attack on Trudeau, noting that Liberal delegates at the party’s policy convention in Montreal had just a few hours earlier passed an emergency resolution calling for support for a transition to democracy in Ukraine.
The resolution also called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper not to allow any foreign power to interfere with the will of the Ukrainian people.
“James Moore and Jason Kenney are trying to take advantage of this for cheap partisan reasons,” Garneau said.
“If you look at the entire transcript, you’ll see that Justin Trudeau spoke very seriously about the situation in Ukraine, and anyone who’s been on ’Tout Le Monde En Parle’ knows what kind of show it is.”