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Letters

Keep Trump Out: An open letter to Justin Trudeau

By Rebecca Riley

Dear Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,

Please do not allow U.S. President Donald Trump into Canada. 

The author meets Trudeau at his Ottawa book launch in 2014, a couple months after being diagnosed with PTSD. A year later she voted for him, “partly because of his feminist beliefs.” Photo: Adam Scotti

The author meets Trudeau at his Ottawa book launch in 2014, a couple months after being diagnosed with PTSD. A year later she voted for him, “partly because of his feminist beliefs.”
Photo: Adam Scotti

Although President Trump is not planning to travel to meet with you until next year, I have been concerned recently by Melania Trump visiting Toronto for the Invictus Games and Donald Trump Jr.’s travels in British Columbia this past summer.

If you allow President Trump into Canada then you will endanger marginalized groups. Allowing President Trump into Canada would threaten women, and indirectly jeopardize people of colour.

Although President Trump has not yet been convicted of sexual assault, we know he is a sexual predator based on his past behaviour. In the Billy Bush tape released in October of 2016 President Trump brags about sexually touching women without their consent. Two days after the video came out, President Trump tried to physically intimidate Hillary Clinton by stalking her around the stage during the second presidential debate.

Over sixteen women have publicly accused President Trump of sexual assault. According to an article from October of 2017 in The Guardian the White House’s official position is that all sixteen women who have accused President Trump of sexual assault are lying.

President Trump has also admitted on tape that when he owned the Miss America pageant he would deliberately enter the dressing rooms when contestants were changing. “I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it,” he told Howard Stern. “You know, they’re standing there with no clothes… you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that.”

Former contestants and models have also stated that they were present when he entered the changing area, some of whom were underage at the time.

“Who do you complain to? He owns the pageant. So there’s no one to complain to – everyone there works for him,” Tasha Dixon, a former Miss America contestant, told CBS2 LA.

In the early 1990s his now ex-wife Ivana Trump accused him of rape. Special counsel for the Trump Organization Michael Cohen denied the charge, falsely claiming, “You cannot rape your spouse.”

Cohen also said to the Daily Beast that Ivana Trump meant that “she felt raped emotionally… She was not referring to it [as] a criminal matter, and not in its literal sense, though there’s many literal senses to the word.”

Ivana Trump has since echoed Cohen, saying that she did not accuse Trump in a “literal or criminal sense.” As part of her  divorce settlement, she is not allowed to talk about their marriage without his permission.

All this demonstrates that President Trump has a history of both known and alleged sexual assault and harassment that spans decades. As a woman with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, I am concerned for the security of women – as well as my own safety – should President Trump travel to Ottawa.

President Trump’s presence would also cause safety concerns for people of colour because his politics attract white supremacists. Some of these supremacists have already turned violent, in both Canada and the U.S.

Earlier this year Alexandre Bissonnette, a supporter of Donald Trump, executed a terrorist attack that killed six men at a mosque in Quebec City.

David Duke and other members of the Klu Klux Klan have publicly supported President Trump, including at the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August where a driver intentionally drove into counter-protesters, killing anti-racist activist Heather Heyer.

Far-right groups across the world have been emboldened by the election of President Trump. Allowing President Trump to visit Canada would validate the beliefs of white supremacists in our own country, which could possibly result in violence.

I understand that as Prime Minister you have a responsibility to maintain and foster a relationship with the U.S. President, but I suggest that you meet with him in his own country. Please do not invite and welcome him into my home.

Recently at WE Day in New York City you said, “Being a feminist for me means recognizing men and women should be, can be, must be equal – and secondly that we still have an awful lot of work to do. We need to take back what it is to be a man and that means being open, compassionate, respectful and brave about standing up for it!”

While President Trump presents many challenges, you are also presented with an opportunity to demonstrate your feminist convictions.

I hope that you will be brave enough to take preventative measures in order to protect marginalized groups. I hope you will protect me.

Sincerely,

Rebecca Riley

This article first appeared in the Leveller Vol. 10, No. 3 (Nov/Dec 2017).

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