Canada’s genial relationship with the despotic government of Cuba is the only fragment of policy from prime minister John Diefenbaker that still survives. For half a century, we have traded happily with the Cubans and sent planeloads of tourists to their beaches every winter. Two of our prime ministers, Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chrétien, made official visits, with Trudeau shouting “Viva Castro” and his wife Margaret declaring Fidel Castro “the sexiest man alive.”
For a democracy, our long-standing Cuban policy is appalling, though history has given it a patina of legitimacy. It’s even a matter of pride for many Canadians, however odious the Castro government. It’s thought to prove our independence from the United States. We are the northern pals of Cubans and they our Caribbean buddies.