Cana­di­ans blast Trump re­marks

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - NATIONAL - COLIN PERKEL

For­mer gover­nor gen­eral Michaelle Jean was among those Cana­di­ans who sharply crit­i­cized U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Fri­day for re­port­edly us­ing vul­gar lan­guage to de­scribe Haiti and coun­tries in Africa.

Jean, who was born in the Haitian cap­i­tal of Port-au-Prince and is cur­rently sec­re­tary gen­eral of the Or­gan­i­sa­tion in­ter­na­tionale de la Fran­co­phonie, called Trump’s re­ported re­marks “in­sult­ing.”

“It was so dis­turb­ing this morn­ing to hear Pres­i­dent Trump’s com­ments re­ported all over the news call­ing my poor na­tive land and African coun­tries ‘s---hole’ na­tions,” Jean said in a state­ment to The Cana­dian Press. “It is such an in­sult be­fore hu­man­ity.”

Trump was widely re­ported on Thurs­day to have ques­tioned in a meet­ing with law­mak­ers why the United States should ac­cept more im­mi­grants from Haiti and “s--hole coun­tries” in Africa rather than from places such as Nor­way.

On Fri­day morn­ing, Trump tweeted that he used “tough” lan­guage at the meet­ing, but not the re­ported vul­gar­ity. Still, Jean, 60, who was Canada’s gover­nor gen­eral from 2005 to 2010, made no bones about her feel­ings.

“For the first rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the United States of Amer­ica to speak in such a man­ner is quite trou­bling and of­fen­sive,” Jean said in the state­ment.

Jean, a refugee from Haiti who came to Canada in 1968 and was raised in Thet­ford Mines, Que., also noted that Fri­day was the eighth an­niver­sary of a dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake that struck her na­tive coun­try, one of 57 mem­ber French-lan­guage coun­tries — many from Africa — that form La Fran­co­phonie.

Speak­ing in Lon­don, Ont., Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau said he would not “opine on what the pres­i­dent may or may not have said” but called Canada a coun­try of open­ness and re­spect.

Trump’s re­ported com­ments were also taken per­son­ally by Dr. An­drew Furey, an or­tho­pe­dic sur­geon in St. John’s, N.L., and founder of Team Bro­ken Earth, a group of med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als who re­sponded to the Haitian earth­quake in 2010 and has since re­turned to the coun­try sev­eral times.

“In ad­di­tion to be­ing in­sult­ing to us, more im­por­tantly it’s quite dis­re­spect­ful and in­sult­ing to the peo­ple that we’re try­ing to help and the friends and col­leagues that we’ve made there over the last eight years,” Furey said in an in­ter­view. “It’s pro­foundly dis­ap­point­ing to hear some­one in that of­fice use that lan­guage.”

While Trump’s var­i­ous state­ments have fre­quently been deemed of­fen­sive, Furey said that’s no rea­son to ac­cept them. It’s in­cum­bent on ev­ery­one as global cit­i­zens, he said, to chal­lenge the pres­i­dent’s views on coun­tries out­side the U.S., es­pe­cially those that are poor and in need.

Some have de­fended Trump’s pro­nounce­ments as straight talk.

“Trump is ab­so­lutely right,” said Ma­mady Traore, 30, a so­ci­ol­o­gist in Guinea. “When you have heads of state who mess with the con­sti­tu­tions to per­pet­u­ate their power. When you have rebel fac­tions that kill chil­dren, dis­em­bowel women as saints, who mu­ti­late in­no­cent civil­ians.”

Oth­ers, like for­mer Cana­dian prime min­is­ter Kim Camp­bell, de­nounced the pres­i­dent’s “abom­inable and ig­no­rant” views and state­ments.

“(I) have known many fine Haitians — in­clud­ing a for­mer gover­nor gen­eral of Canada,” Camp­bell said in a tweet. “Trump is un­wor­thy to speak of them!”

In Mon­treal, Mar­jorie Ville­franche, di­rec­tor of La Mai­son d’Haiti, a promi­nent cul­tural and com­mu­nity cen­tre, called the pres­i­dent’s views “ridicu­lous.”

“I don’t know what kind of brain he has be­cause he just for­gets the his­tory of the world,” Ville­franche said. “He for­gets the U.S. is an im­mi­grant coun­try.”

DAR­RYL DYCK/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of La Fran­co­phonie and for­mer gover­nor gen­eral of Canada Michaelle Jean in Van­cou­ver on Nov. 14. Jean is call­ing U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s re­marks on her na­tive coun­try as well as Africa dis­turb­ing and an in­sult be­fore hu­man­ity.

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