Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent out a Twitter thread on April 2 that started off, “It’s the start of a long weekend, and I know that means you’d normally be getting together with your entire family for a few days of fun. But with the number of COVID-19 cases rising across the country, we’re all going to have to do things differently again this year.”
What’s relevant about this tweet?
The PM used the term “long weekend” instead of mentioning anything about Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
This isn’t terribly shocking. Trudeau typically makes a statement on Easter Sunday but doesn’t traditionally send out a statement or video specifically pertaining to Good Friday.
Trudeau has made public appearances on Good Friday. His most recent was at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Hamilton in 2019. He attended mass and helped give out fish and chips to the city’s homeless.
He’s also mentioned this important Christian holiday in his political messaging.
Trudeau’s April 10, 2020, press conference on COVID-19, on Good Friday, referred to it along with Easter, Passover, Tamil New Year and Vaisakhi. He said the “Easter egg hunt” would have to occur “around the house, instead of around the neighbourhood,” and “the Easter Bunny has a big job to do this year.” He also mentioned the “Easter long weekend won’t be like others, but I know that it will nevertheless be full of joy, laughter and love.”
It’s also worth pointing out he used the term “long weekend” last year to open his press conference but covered it off with the aforementioned “Easter long weekend.”
Not this year, however.
The less-than-subtle change in Trudeau’s messaging during Easter explains why many Canadians were displeased for a couple of days. It didn’t solely have to do with Conservatives attacking his left-wing politics, as some of his fervent supporters attempted to show. Some Liberals were also caught off guard.
In the end, Trudeau released a short video and statement on Easter Sunday.
All’s well that ends well, right?
I’m not part of the Catholic faith like Trudeau. I’m not a Christian, either. Yet I’ve never understood why this prime minister refuses to put out a statement on Good Friday specifically about Good Friday.
This biblical event has important religious significance to many Christian denominations. It specifically deals with the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary, which is located just outside the walls of Jerusalem. The Catholic church regards Good Friday and Holy Saturday as part of the Paschal (or Easter) Triduum. Since Pope Pius XII’s 1955 decree Maxima Redemptionis, it’s also been recognized as a separate liturgical period.
“My own personal faith is an extremely important part of who I am and the values that I try to lead with,” Trudeau said in November 2011. While his late father Pierre Elliott Trudeau practised a progressive form of Catholicism, the family regularly attended church.
In an Oct. 18, 2014, interview with the Ottawa Citizen, Justin Trudeau acknowledged becoming a “lapsed Catholic.” This changed not long after the 1998 death of his brother Michel when he was invited by a friend to attend an Alpha course. The message they were taught was “Don’t feel you have to do it all alone. Put your trust in God every now and then. Be comfortable about saying I need help. And recognize that.”
Ever since that fateful journey, “I still consider myself and have re-found myself of a deep faith and belief in God. But obviously very aware of the separation of church and state in my political thinking.”
There have been many stories – and plenty of rumours – about Trudeau’s current religious beliefs or lack thereof. If we give him the benefit of the doubt based on these two previous statements, it seems unfathomable he wouldn’t want to address Good Friday. In fact, he should be relishing the opportunity to do so.
If Trudeau is still prime minister in 2022, he should start a new tradition for the office he holds. Put out a short statement about Good Friday, followed by a longer statement on Easter Sunday. He should continue to do this every year he leads our nation – and every prime minister who follows him, irrespective of religious identity, should do the same thing.
This would end the confusion for Catholics and Christians alike. And if Trudeau won’t do it, then we have every reason to ask him why.
Michael Taube, a Troy Media syndicated columnist and Washington Times contributor, was a speechwriter for former prime minister Stephen Harper. He holds a master’s degree in comparative politics from the London School of Economics. For interview requests, click here.