Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau
Credits: JOEL LEMAY/QMI AGENCY
OTTAWA - Justin Trudeau was gang-tackled Monday for an ill-timed joke about the tense situation in Ukraine.
Conservative and New Democrats questioned the Liberal leader's credentials and credibility on the world stage for what they said were flippant and distasteful comments and another example of why he's not ready for prime time.
Jobs Minister Jason Kenney was aghast at Trudeau's insensitivity.
"It shows he has absolutely no depth on foreign policy... I don't think he understands the complexities of these issues. I'd be surprised if he could find Kiev on a map," Kenney told QMI Agency.
The Montreal MP came under blistering scrutiny after equating any Russian intervention in Ukraine on the Olympic host's poor hockey performance at the Sochi Games.
His unpolished foreign policy views were aired in French during an unscripted interview in Quebec on Sunday hours after his party wrapped up a policy convention in Montreal, where delegates passed resolutions to decriminalize medically assisted suicides and a series of debt-financed national programs.
"For me, the President Yanukovych has become illegitimate and it's very disconcerting, particularly since Russia lost in hockey during the Olympics - Russia will be in a bad mood, we are concerned about Russia implicating itself in the Ukraine," he said.
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He followed up by saying his remarks were an "attempt to bring a little bit of a lighter tone into a situation that is extremely serious."
Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said the comments were inappropriate and offensive from someone with little knowledge of diplomacy.
"Trudeau apparently thinks the situation in Ukraine is something to joke about. We don't... This is another case of the Liberal leader simply showing bad judgment, saying that foreign policy on an important issue like Ukraine, which is critical to the peace and stability of Europe and to the peace and stability of the world could be determined by one country's mood after losing a hockey game."
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said Trudeau's musings were unacceptable.
"I fail l to see the levity when you have dozens of people shot dead in the street of their own capital. So you don't make jokes about it."
Mulcair said Trudeau's latest faux pas is indicative of a pattern, including his praise for Communists and comments about studying the root causes of terrorism after the Boston Marathon bloodbath.
Trudeau has ducked the media in recent days with the exception of interviews approved by his handlers.
He was a no-show in the Commons on Monday and left MP Marc Garneau to come to his defence.
Garneau said Trudeau has nothing to apologize for, and that his boss is being unfairly attacked and that Trudeau fully understands the Ukrainian situation.
"He didn't misspeak," Garneau said. "He didn't misspeak."
He said Trudeau's foes took his words out of context and were "playing cheap, political, partisan politics" out of desperation because of Trudeau's popularity.
Ukraine's ambassador to Canada, Vadym Prystaiko, said Trudeau should apologize.
So Justin Trudeau, whose favourite regime is "the basic dictatorship of China," thinks the deadly crisis in Ukraine is a laughing matter.— Jason Kenney (@kenneyjason) February 24, 2014
Justin on Ukraine “It is very worrisome, particularly since Russia lost in hockey, they will be in a bad mood...” (CBC) Unreal.— James Moore (@JamesMoore_org) February 24, 2014