Justin Trudeau has finally apologized for an unpopular remark he made last week about the deadly conflict in Ukraine.
In an interview with Radio Canada taped last Thursday — after violent clashes that killed dozens in Ukraine — the Liberal leader said this: "It is very worrisome, particularly since Russia lost in hockey, they will be in a bad mood and we fear Russian involvement in the Ukraine."
On Tuesday afternoon, he tweeted out a message explaining that he had apologized to Paul Grod, President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
Just spoke with @PaulMGrod of UCC. Told him I'm sorry to have spoken lightly of the very real threat Russia poses to Ukraine.
— Justin Trudeau, MP (@JustinTrudeau) February 25, 2014
The apology comes after 24 hours of criticism from the Conservatives, the NDP, the media and even the Ukraine Ambassador to Canada.
"You have to be extremely careful when you talk about 82 people who died fighting … for their future and everyone’s in danger," Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko said, according to the Canadian Press.
"[Trudeau's] just sitting in a nice room, and talking about things in such a light manner; it’s just inappropriate."
Trudeau did meet with Prystaiko, on Tuesday, and apologized to him personally.
In a post-Question Period scrum, Trudeau explained that he regrets his comments.
"You may recall that the day Russia was eliminated from Olympic hockey, that was certainly something I had in mind," Trudeau told reporters in French.
"But I have to say I very much regret having said this. I don't know how this is going to seem to some but I know that some people minimize the real fear of many Ukrainians about potential violence in that country. And that's why I'm very open and willing to apologize and take back those comments."
Despite the apology, a right-leaning political analyst and communications consultant says the damage has already been done.
"I suspect that an apology came with his pollsters and political consultants who said 'apologize you dummy'", Gerry Nicholls told Yahoo Canada News in a telephone interview.
"I think the fact that he did apologize shows that this is more serious than he thought it was.
"In the short run, it's going to take off some of the heat. But this is still going to come back to haunt him in 2015. It will still make its way into a Tory party attack ad."
(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)
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