The controversy over Justin Trudeau's 2011 visit to a Wahhabi mosque in Montreal associated with al Qaida recruiting is dying down as ongoing events in the world take precedence in the news. But there are a few final points worth noting about the media kerfuffle over the matter.
Correspondents for Sun News and Postmedia are taking pot shots at each other about the coverage, with Jon Kay of the National Post essentially accusing the Sun of "Islamophobia," for running the story, and Sun correspondents Ezra Levant and Brian Lilley suggesting the Post and other mainstream media are running interference for the inept Liberal Party leader.
As someone who has been published in the National Post and as a frequent guest on Sun News, I have an affinity for both organizations. I think they both do good work, both make crucial contributions to Canada's information landscape, and more importantly still, both as rivals and competitors, their differing views are needed to keep each other honest.
Sure, sometimes Sun News goes overboard and chomps down on a narrow issue like a rottweiler on a steak bone. But Canadians really do have a mostly 'consensus media,' with an almost uniform outlook, where many reporters are pathetically uninformed about the issues the report on and impose their biases while pretending to be impartial. Given that, Sun News' different perspective and willingness to ask questions other news outlets won't is absolutely essential. Many times, important issues have come to light only because Sun News covered them and shamed the mainstream media into following suit.
On the other side, most of the National Post's reporters and editorialists are anything but uninformed. Jon Kay is an exceptionally knowledgeable journalist as well as being a tremendously gifted writer, and along with Andrew Coyne, George Jonas and many others, they probably have the best editorial staff of any newspaper in Canada. They often bring a reasoned, rational, balanced, fact-based perspective that is too often lacking in the rest of Canada's dailies.
Getting back to the Trudeau mosque visit, I have to lean towards Sun News on this one.
There are some who have pointed out that Trudeau's mosque visit is just what politicians do. If what Trudeau did was so terrible, then why not the same outrage from Sun News over a visit by Conservative cabinet minister Jason Kenney to the Jaffari Centre, which had been implicated in a radical, anti-Semitic education curriculum and has links to the Iranian dictatorship?
As it happened the National Post did report on Kenney's visit to the Jaffari Centre, with a very different sort of headline, "Jason Kenney visited Toronto-area Islamic centre tied to organization that disseminated anti-Semitic literature, " than the Trudeau mosque visit evoked in the Post.
Trudeau and his spokespeople have been shifting their excuses for the mosque visit, sometimes claiming it was to promote pluralism and others saying that he was ignorant of the mosque being a centre of extremism. The latter was in essence the same excuse used by Jason Kenney.
But there are compelling reasons why Kenney's excuse rings more true than Justin Trudeau's. Kenney has proven his bones about radicalism and extremism, having directly taken on the terror-supporting radicals of Palestine House, The Canadian Islamic Congress, and The Canadian Arab Federation, with the Cabinet Minister even successfully fighting a law suit by the latter after he pulled their federal funding.
The Liberal leader's history and behaviour are very different.
Trudeau's visit to the radical mosque was and is part of a pattern of moral relativism and the coddling of extremists that the media other than Sun News has been all too happy to overlook. It was a terrible decision on the part of the Liberal Party leader to go to a mosque which promoted material advocating the killing of apostates, made worse by Trudeau's subsequent boasting about the visit, long after he knew or should have known about its extremism and links to terrorism.
Trudeau's brother and senior political advisor Alexandre partnered with Iran's state-controlled PRESS TV to make what was basically a propaganda film for Iran's nuclear program and Omar Alghabra, another of his senior advisers who is also a federal Liberal candidate, has been active in attacking Israel for defending itself from the terror group Hamas.
It would seem obvious that calling out such behavior by Trudeau, considering he could potentially be the next Prime Minister of Canada, is the responsibility of journalists. Maybe attacking Sun News for doing that is indicative of a heated journalistic rivalry, but it does nothing to inform Canadians about the policies and practices of someone who is trying to attain the top position in government, nor does it serve Canadians particularly well.