Answering Trump with Winston Churchill

Two ex-diplomats want Canadians to avoid commenting on the American election campaign, but to say simply that it’s a domestic issue and Americans can do as they damn well please (I’m paraphrasing).

David MacNaughton and Louise Blais, formerly based in Washington and at the United Nations respectively, recently published opinion pieces warning us to shut up about Donald Trump.  They worry that, if elected, the volatile ex-president might retaliate with a vengeance — and about that they are probably right.

Their apprehension arises as a result of the federal government’s appointment of a couple of ministers to develop a Team Canada approach to the election — something Thomas Homer-Dixon, that leading Canadian intellectual, has rightly been advocating since early 2022.

The presidential election is a global issue whose result will have consequences around the world, and especially in Canada. Surely the concept of “election interference” should be confined to clandestine operations in which money changes  hands, or to behind-the-scenes skulduggery with James-Bond types ferreting out scandals and secret communications about paying for votes and like that.  And not applied to public commentary.

This timorous diplomatic initiative puts me in mind of the 1930s, when British prime minister Neville Chamberlain and his Canadian counterpart, William Lyon Mackenzie King, advocated appeasement as the best way to respond to what was happening in Germany. If we keep our heads down and our opinions to ourselves, this thinking goes, everything will be all right.

The ensuing catastrophe proved them wrong and unprepared. I wonder if we wouldn’t be wiser to ignore the would-be appeasers and follow Winston Churchill, who refused to keep his mouth shut. In 1938, standing up in the House of Commons as a lowly backbencher, Churchill thundered that Chamberlain’s ballyhooed Munich Agreement was “a total and unmitigated defeat” and warned that worse would follow unless people mustered the courage to speak out.

His vindication took shape as the Second World War.



  1. Joanne Helmer on February 12, 2024 at 6:38 pm

    It’s another point of view, for sure. i tend to think Canada will have to learn how to work with him in one way or another if he’s re-elected. Churchill was not prime minister when he made those comments. but you’ve made me think about the comparison. we certainly know what trump plans if he’s re-elected. he’s been very clear about it.

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