Trudeau, cabinet sidestep calls to denounce Trump mocking of Blasey Ford - InfoNews

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Trudeau, cabinet sidestep calls to denounce Trump mocking of Blasey Ford

Some are calling on Canada's self-proclaimed feminist prime minister and his cabinet to take a public stand against Trump's comments in support of women who have been victims of sexual violence. Minister of Status of Women Maryam Monsef speaks during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, June 14, 2018.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Kawai
October 04, 2018 - 6:00 AM

OTTAWA - Two days before an American-imposed deadline to finalize a new trade deal with the United States and Mexico, the Trudeau government wanted to talk about women's equality.

It was also the day after Christine Blasey Ford and U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh offered opposing and emotionally charged accounts of her allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her as a teenager during a widely-watched Senate hearing.

Small Business Minister Mary Ng was in Toronto for a funding announcement the Liberals hoped to use as a kickoff to women's history month, trying to capitalize on Ng's personal story as a businesswoman navigating the world of national politics.

When the question came about how the women's equality movement may be impacted by the Kavanaugh hearings, there was an uncomfortable silence.

"I applaud the leadership of a woman who is speaking out," Ng said in a telephone interview with The Canadian Press.

The newly minted cabinet minister then quickly turned the interview back to the funding announcement.

Blasey Ford has been criticized for coming forward with her allegations, most recently by U.S. President Donald Trump, who mocked her this week for not knowing answers to questions about the incident three decades ago — leading to mounting pressure for Canada's self-proclaimed feminist prime minister and his cabinet to take a public stand against the president's comments.

Ottawa-based sexual-violence educator Julie Lalonde says she believes the Trudeau government is treading carefully out of fear of "poking the bear" — a situation she calls unacceptable. Lalonde, who led a workshop on preventing sexual harassment at the federal Liberal party convention in April, said Trump's derision of Blasey Ford's testimony is a form of intimidation towards victims.

The Trudeau government should be taking a stronger stand in denouncing these efforts, she said.

"I think (Trump) is such a bully that people are treading lightly, they're only speaking to him when they absolutely have to, they're not poking the bear at all, they're not doing anything that might be seen as antagonistic," she said.

"And I think the end result is that they are complicit."

On Wednesday, Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef sidestepped questions about the government's perceived silence on Trump's comments and concerns about the fate of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, opting instead to talk about her cabinet colleague as an example of the Liberal government's feminist economic agenda.

"I cant' imagine a better way to kick off women's history month than our formidable foreign affairs minister (Chrystia Freeland) ... being able to reach a trade deal in principle. This is an important moment in women's history and in Canada's history," Monsef said.

"We've created access and opportunities and that relationship with our neighbours down south remains intact."

Monsef said the government stands up daily for women and girls in Canada and abroad. She said it is "not just up to governments" to stand up for justice for women.

"Every single one of us, whether it's the private sector or individuals online and in communities on the ground, have an opportunity to be part of a more equal and a more just society."

—Follow @ReporterTeresa on Twitter

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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