By David Himbara
The romance between Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Rwanda’s strongman Paul Kagame is difficult to fathom. For the past several months, the romance between the two and among their respective ministers has blossomed beyond belief.
To begin with, the unthinkable happened. Rwanda’s Defence Minister, General James Kabarebe was given the red carpet in Canada in November 2017.
Canada became the first Western country in which Kabarebe can dare set foot — he stands indicted for war crimes. Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan who hosted Kabarebe would not answer questions about his guest’s background when challenged by the media.
In the same month in 2017, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, hosted his Rwandan counterpart, Vincent Biruta.
The two signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation. McKenna announced that Canada and Rwanda are great partners. As she put it, the memorandum of understanding reaffirmed ”our close friendship.”
What is behind this new romance?
The relationship between Trudeau and Kagame remains a mystery. There is hardly any trade between Canada and Rwanda.
Statistics Canada shows that the two-way trade between Canada and Rwanda was a mere Can$1.5 million in 2017.
Rwanda also does not feature among the recipients of Canada’s foreign aid. Ethiopia, Mali, Tanzania, South Sudan and Nigeria are the main recipients of Canadian aid.
Evidently, Trudeau does not practice what he preaches
On Human Rights Day — December 10, 2017, Trudeau issued a statement with the following words:
”Seventy years ago, delegates from around the world came together to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which declares everyone is ‘born free and equal in dignity and rights.’ We take this occasion to celebrate our very own John Humphrey, who helped draft this revolutionary document, and to recommit ourselves to a more just and equal world.”
But there he is — embracing one of the worst human rights abusers.
In the last three months alone, Kagame closed some 1,500 churches, the last spheres where Rwandans could still express themselves. Kagame locked up a bishop and five priests who objected to church closures. Soon after, Kagame’s security forces killed over a dozen Congolese who were protesting against hunger. Presumably, Trudeau is unaware of Kagame’s violence on his own people.