An open letter to Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

justin trudeau

  • declaring opposition to his agreement with intervention in the internal affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (República Bolivariana de Venezuela); and
  • urging him to facilitate negotiations between the Venezuelan government and its opponents that will allow Venezuela to continue on its visionary path of genuine peace fostered by social and economic justice.

29 January 2019

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.

Prime Minister of Canada

[email protected]

Dear Prime Minister,

What would your Daddy say?

Your father, the late Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was known as a friend and supporter of Fidel Castro and his revolutionary vision of transforming Cuba into a democracy led by and for the people, where informed citizens could live lives of political and social self-determination.

Canada stood in firm opposition to the U.S. led sanctions on Cuba. We are sure that your father supported that opposition.

We acknowledge that, to its credit and consistent with its history, Canada has been working with Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina and Chile to resolve the current crisis in Venezuela. However, stating support for a person who declares himself to be President of Venezuela is not consistent with Canada’s history of supporting democratic action, in general and its commitment to the Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS) which requires the “pacific settlement of disputes between members”.

Prime Minister, we wonder what your Daddy would say if he knew what you have done.

What would your “Gramma” say?

You have been quoted as saying that you “loved your grandmother – the late Kathleen Sinclair – immensely.” Her husband was a Cabinet colleague of the then-Secretary of State for External Affairs, Lester B. Pearson. As you know, Pearson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his actions in getting a United Nations Emergency Force sent to Egypt to avert a major war in the region.

We believe your grandmother would have been supportive of Pearson’s actions. Those actions stand in stark contrast to your implied support of Trump-style (U.S. led) military intervention into Venezuela.

The Raging Grannies are peace activists who formed their first group in BC, the beloved home of your grandmother. While it is unlikely that your grandmother was one of the Raging Grannies, we’d like to believe that she would have been with them in spirit.

We wonder what the Raging Grannies and your grandmother would say to you now.

What would Paul Martin and other past PMs say?

One similarity between you and former PM Paul Martin, Jr. that stands out is the passion that both of you bring to indigenous issues; attempting to redress a long and dishonourable history in North America with respect to indigenous peoples.

Prime Minister, you appear to be committed to achieving negotiated settlements with indigenous peoples that allow for self-determination. Your actions parallel Mr. Martin’s success in negotiating the Kelowna Accord, for example. An accord that was reversed by the succeeding Harper government.

The principle of support for self-determination seems to have abandoned you with respect to the Venezuelan people, many of whom are indigenous. The double standard puzzles us. We think Mr. Martin would be similarly puzzled.

U.S. President Kennedy informed PM John Diefenbaker about photographs of construction of several nuclear missile sites in Cuba and requested that Canada join the U.S. in raising its military status to crisis level. Diefenbaker doubted the intelligence that he was provided and recommended that independent United Nations inspectors survey the Cuban missile sites. Kennedy was angry that Diefenbaker did not immediately go along with the U.S. position.

Similarly, PM Jean Chretien demonstrated that Canada was not the 51st state of America. He refused to commit to military action in Iraq without a resolution from the UN Security Council in part because he was not persuaded that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, as U.S. President Bush was asserting.

Prime Minister, Canada is not the 51st state. Diefenbaker knew it. Chretien knew it. Both acted after careful consideration of the facts and in a way that demonstrated respect for Canada’s recognition of the UN as the agency to lead action in potential international conflicts.

What are the women around you saying?

Over 70 academics, political scientists, historians, filmmakers, civil society leaders, and other experts published an open letter condemning intervention by the United States in Venezuela. Code Pink co-founder, Medea Benjamin, was one of the 70 people, along with several other highly respected women.

The corporate media – left and right – have been spectacularly silent connecting your response on Venezuela to the December agreement allowing Russia to mine Venezuelan gold. They have been spectacularly silent about the history of the U.S. to gain control of Venezuelan oil. They have been spectacularly silent about the U.S. failed attempt to depose Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2002 or that the attempted coup was managed by Elliott Abrams, who has now been appointed by Trump as U.S. Special Envoy for Venezuela.

Prime Minister, you have been a supporter of women and have called yourself a feminist. You have appointed a remarkable number of women to senior posts in your government.

The horrendously negative impact of the crisis in Venezuela, as happens in virtually all similar crises throughout history, falls disproportionately on women and children.

We have no way of knowing what you think of the position taken in opposition to yours by brilliant women like Ms. Benjamin. We wonder about what the women around you are saying.

What were you thinking?

Some years ago, U.S. President Barack Obama mused out loud about the possibility of taking military action to oust Syrian President Assad. Donald Trump – still some years away from becoming President and Commander-in-Chief of the United States – tweeted “TO OUR VERY FOOLISH LEADER, DO NOT ATTACK SYRIA – IF YOU DO MANY VERY BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN & FROM THAT FIGHT THE U.S. GETS NOTHING!” Wise counsel from the Donald. President Obama eventually decided against such intervention.

Now when he is in power, President Trump is speaking out of the other side of his mouth with respect to Venezuela.

William Faulkner wrote: “I know now that what makes a fool is an inability to take even his own good advice.” Trump gave good advice to President Obama, although written disrespectfully. He should take his own earlier advice about Syria and apply it to Venezuela. Prime Minister, so should you.

We wonder what you are thinking when you adopt Trump’s position today.

Prime Minister, we were shocked to learn that you endorsed Juan Guaido as president of Venezuela. Señor Guaido declared himself to be president. Señor Guaido did not even run in the election at which millions chose Nicolas Maduro from a competitive field of four. Prime Minister, you are endorsing a coup. Have you given a moment’s thought to how you would have responded if someone had declared himself Liberal Party Leader after your landslide victory in 2015?

Prime Minister, you have been very clear that Canada should have a robust working and middle class. Many of Canada’s people were affected by the sanctions – ‘economic aggression’ is a better term – imposed on Canada by Donald Trump. The continuing crisis in Venezuela is the direct result of various forms of trade barriers, tariffs and restrictions on essentials like food, health care products and medicine. Prime Minister, we cannot believe you do not see the parallels. Prime Minister, what are you thinking when you adopt Trump’s position on Venezuela?

Here’s what we say!

Prime Minister, we urge you to return to Canada’s long-established policy and practice of facilitating negotiated settlements in international crisis situations. In particular, we urge you to facilitate negotiations between the Venezuelan government and its opponents that will allow Venezuela to continue on its visionary path of genuine peace fostered by social and economic justice.


Cikiah Thomas

Global Afrikan Congress (North America)

The Global Afrikan Congress is an international network of Pan-Afrikanist and Afrikan-centred organizations and individuals who are committed to building linkages and genuine and permanent relationships across the Afrikan world. We aim to mobilize the human, economic, political, spiritual and cultural resources of Afrika and the Afrikan Diaspora in the interests and to the benefit, of Afrika and her scattered daughters and sons. The International Working Committee is the governing body of the GAC and comprises representatives from throughout the Afrikan world.

The GAC recognizes that Afrikans and Afrikan descendants continue to suffer post-traumatic slavery syndrome, internalized oppression, inter-generational trauma, racism, captivity, slavery, wage slavery, prison slavery, and other forms of dehumanization, and have proclaimed a profound determination to achieve their absolute freedom.

The GAC Constitution and By-Laws were adopted in October, 2004, at the GAC Constitutional Conference and Family Gathering held in Paramaribo, Suriname.




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