The Trudeau Government Taken To Task For Giving The Red Carpet To Rwanda Defence Minister James
By David Himbara
The Justin Trudeau’s liberal government is generally considered to be sophisticated and cosmopolitan due to several factors:
- Half the Trudeau cabinet are women.
- The cabinet is multicultural reflecting the Canadian ethnic mosaic.
- The government strongly advocates the rights of indigenous Canadians.
- It is strongly opposed to any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation.
- Globally, the Trudeau government champions environmental protection; and
- It is a voice for human rights.
And so it came as a shock, when Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, gave his Rwandan counterpart, James Kabarebe, the red carpet. How could Kabarebe set foot in Canada, when he cannot dare visit any other Western democracies due to his horrible human rights record?
It is widely known that Kabarebe stands accused of massacring innocent Rwandan civilians as well as foreign nationals during the Rwandan Civil War of the 1990s. Kabarebe was also the chief architect of the invasion and occupation of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It was under Kabarebe’s command that up to 5 million people in DRC perished from 1996 to the early 2000s.
So, how could a progressive Canadian government welcome such a person on the Canadian soil?
One of the Canadian enablers of the Kagame regime, General Roméo Dallaire
In November 2017, Kabarebe was fêted in Ottawa, Vancouver, and Edmonton. He even boasted about how Canada begged him to visit, while previous Canadian governments would not have let him into the country.
One Canadian leader has not forgotten this sad and humiliating episode. Enter James Bezan.
James Bezan, Canada’s Shadow Minister for National Defence and member of the Conservative Party of Canada.
James Bezan, Shadow Minister for National Defence, has challenged the Trudeau government to explain the rationale for hosting a man accused of crimes against humanity. In Bezan’s own words, “Conservatives are questioning why an individual facing such serious allegations received an audience with a member of Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet.” As Bezan further highlights,
“Minister Sajjan refused to answer media questions about whether or not he knew about the accusations facing Mr. Kabarebe. It is imperative to know whether the Minister raised the issue of human rights, including the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.”
Canada’s Shadow Defence Minister has educated us on a related matter — namely, The Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, also known as the Sergei Magnitsky Law. This legislation equips the Government of Canada to sanction any foreign officials that have committed human rights atrocities. The legislation permits the government to screen and deny entry into our country to human rights abusers. And yet, the Trudeau government ignored this crucial legislation. MP Bezan’s assessment is correct:
“The ongoing failure to fully use our Magnitsky Law proves once again that Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government are all talk and no action when it comes to standing up to human rights violators.”
Rwandan Canadians and Canada’s human rights community should applaud the efforts of the Shadow Minister of Defence, MP James Bezan, in raising the Kabarebe affair. But we, too, should ask our government why it is soiling Canada by giving the red carpet to suspected mass murderers. Unlike Rwanda where challenging government means imprisonment or even death, we can and should hold our federal government accountable. The government of Canada owes us an explanation.