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Posted: March 10, 2018

A word on Justin Trudeau and how he dresses

“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

Op-Ed Commentary

Does Justin Trudeau get it? In light of his recent India trip disaster, you have to wonder. But there’s another question too. Do we get Trudeau? That may be the more salient question that no one seems to be answering.

The bulk of criticism that erupted in the wake of Trudeau’s quest to the most populous democracy on earth focused on two issues: his choice of haberdashery when he stood in front of such exotic wonders as the Taj Mahal and the Golden Temple and the presence of a convicted terrorist in his sweeping entourage. Let’s deal with the latter first because it won’t take much dealing.

For starters, taking Sikh separatist and convicted attempted murderer, Jaspal Atwal along for the ride was an unmitigated disaster for the ill-fated India trip. Not even silver-tongued Trudeau could talk himself out of that.

In 1986, Atwal was sentenced to 20 years in jail by a Canadian judge for attempting to assassinate an Indian cabinet minister visiting Canada. This took place only one year after the 1985 terrorist bombing of an Air India jet that killed 329 Sikh-Canadians. And if that wasn’t enough, Atwal was also charged, but later acquitted in the 1985 beating of former BC Premier Ujjal Dosanjh and in 2010, a B.C. supreme Court judge ruled Atwal was part of an auto-fraud ring that ripped off ICBC by falsely reporting stolen vehicles.

Pretty rough company don’t you think for a high security visit to a country already beset by terrorist Sikh extremism? And to have him attending a reception where the former terrorist posed for a picture with Trudeau’s wife Sophie! Where does it end? Well, it almost ended with cancellation of what was left of Trudeau’s disaster-plagued mission. It takes more than “sunny ways” to deal with a debacle like that.

But wait a minute. There’s two sides to every story. Right? Assuming the old cliché is correct, consider the following.

Our Prime Minister journeyed to India and showed respect for the second most populated country on earth and the biggest democracy. He also showed respect for India’s people, its history, its various religions and its culture, one of the richest and most diverse in the world. He broke bread with a nation that has 453 languages, nine official religions and one of the fastest growing economies in the world, especially high tech. India has a space program that sent a probe to Mars in 2014. Canada has yet to shoot for the moon and not even the Americans have been there since 1972. Bollywood produces more than 1,600 movies a -year, almost twice as many as Hollywood and India has the second largest rail network in the world and the third most roads.

What’s wrong with showing some admiration and shaking a few hands in a country like that?

Then there’s the matter of what Trudeau and his family wore and how they behaved while visiting the fabled land of the Indus and Ganges Rivers. Yes, it was a trifle disconcerting to see them decked out in traditional Indian garb in front of the Golden Temple, Justin wearing a robe-like “Kurta” dress, Sophie a sari and the children in what I’m told was pattu langa (don’t ask me to explain that).

Laugh and snicker all you want as many Canadians are doing, but what did the Indian people think of the Trudeau’s attire? Maybe they liked it. After all the Trudeaus did look very striking, but we don’t know how the Indian people felt because the Canadian media was too busy laughing and snickering to tell us.

What’s the old saying? “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” When in India . . . etc.

So, let’s not be too hard on poor Justin. In a matter of months or days, he’s going to be dealing with the imbecile to the south of us on NAFTA and he’s going to need all the support he can get. And I doubt if he’ll be wearing a kurta in the Oval Office. But maybe a stars and stripes tie?

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist and not exactly a fashion plate.

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