Liberal MP Justin Trudeau offered an apology and retraction Tuesday over comments he made about the description of honour killings as “barbaric” in a new citizenship guide.
The apology came shortly after the Montreal MP spent most of his morning trying to defend and explain his comments on the social media website Twitter.
“Perhaps I got tangled in semantic weeds in my comments, particularly in view of the Conservatives’ cynicism on these issues,” Trudeau said in a statement. “I want to make it clear that I think the acts described are heinous, barbaric acts that are totally unacceptable in our society.”
The controversy around Trudeau started brewing on Monday when the MP, who is immigration critic for his party, was asked for reaction to the government’s new citizenship guide released earlier in the day. The publication is used as the study guide for Canada’s citizenship test.
The updated Discover Canada booklet includes a line that says, “Canada’s openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, ‘honour killings,’ female genital mutilation, forced marriage or other gender-based violence.”
The term “barbaric” has been in the guide since 2009, but “forced marriage” was added to the line in this new version.
Trudeau took the government to task, however, for using the term “barbaric” and said an official government publication should make an “attempt at responsible neutrality.” He said the acts are “absolutely unacceptable” and that’s not a matter of debate, but the language chosen by the government to describe them is objectionable, the MP said.
Statement by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying he thinks the government shouldn’t call honour killings barbaric.