Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has come under international criticism for expressing ‘deep sorrow’ at the death of former Cuban president, Fidel Castro.
The longtime dictator passed away Friday at the age of 90.
In a statement Saturday, Trudeau praised Castro’s reforms to Cuba’s education and health-care systems while also acknowledging the leader as a “controversial figure”.
He referred to Castro as a “larger-than-life leader”.
The statement was mocked online as the hashtag #TrudeauEulogies began trending on Twitter.
Various tweets pointed out a number of human rights violations that happened during Castro’s half-century reign.
Bin Laden was charismatic leader who helped revolutionize airport security in his lifetime. #trudeaueulogies
— Liars Never Win (@liars_never_win) November 27, 2016
#trudeaueulogies “Today we say goodbye to Mr. Mussolini, the former Italian prime minister best known for his competent train-management.”
— J.J. McCullough (@JJ_McCullough) November 26, 2016
Conservative leadership hopeful Lisa Raitt is among those openly expressing concerns.
In a letter, she says “Canada must not be seen celebrating the life of a tyrant”. She hopes, if offered, Trudeau would “decline in the strongest terms” an invitation to the funeral.
South the border, two Cuban-American senators have weighed in on the controversy.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz called the statement “disgraceful”, while Marco Rubio called it “shameful” and “embarrassing”.
Some support, however, has been offered.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard says he has no issue with Trudeau’s sentiments. He notes Fidel Castro was “a huge figure of the 20th century”.
Prime Minister stands by his statement
On Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reacted to the widespread criticism.
He says he’s standing by his statement noting it was not inappropriate for him to acknowledge Castro’s achievements at the time of his death.
Trudeau adds he understands how some people who had been affected by the Castro regime could take offence.
He says the Canadian people should know he does not shy away from raising human rights, including efforts during his visit to Cuba.