It’s been more than seven years since Justin Trudeau expressed his admiration for the “basic dictatorship” of China and the ability said dictatorship affords them in turning things on a dime.

He made the comments at a ladies-only Toronto fundraiser and at the time, I thought it was just one of those flippant remarks that we’ve now come to know as a Trudeau trademark — think “thank you for your donation.”

However, based on his government’s foreign policy and relationship with China’s communist regime since taking office in 2015, I’m less convinced it was a flippant remark and more convinced it was a rare moment of true insight into Justin Trudeau’s aspirations.

While Trudeau is quick to apologize for the actions of others, including last week’s apology to China for some perceived slight caused by a Canadian diplomat’s purchase of t-shirts emblazoned with a rap logo, he has never apologized for his 2013 statement.

Instead, he attempted to gaslight the rest of us for thinking he could have ever been serious when he said it. Yes, another trademark of this Prime Minister, it’s never his fault. It’s always the rest of us who are the problem.

The truth is that Trudeau’s admiration for China’s dictatorship is the real problem and it’s coming at a real cost to Canadians.

We’ve seen the toll on Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor and their families as the two men continue to languish in Chinese detention. We’ve seen the toll on Canadian meat and canola producers after they faced China’s ban on Canadian imports. We’ve seen the threats that have been made by China’s Ambassador against Canadians in Hong Kong and against Canadian parliamentarians.

And even with all of that, last year, Justin Trudeau thought the best path forward for Canada in acquiring vaccines for Covid19 was to put all of our faith in the communist regime he so admires; because they’ve been so forthright and reliable in dealing with us up until now, huh Mr. Trudeau?

The deal was between Canada’s National Research Council and Chinese vaccine manufacturer CanSino. The NRC issued CanSino a license to use a Canadian biological product as part of their vaccine research; in return, CanSino would provide samples of the vaccine for clinical trials here in Canada and the vaccine, once approved, would have been manufactured at a facility in Montreal.

Here’s the thing about dictatorial, tyrannical regimes like the CCP – they’re unreliable.

The CanSino deal fell apart within days of it being announced when the Chinese government blocked shipments of the vaccines to Canada. Not only did it take months for Canadians to find out about the failed deal, it also took months for Prime Minister Trudeau’s government to begin following other avenues for vaccine procurement.

Trudeau’s increasingly irrational desire to emulate, appease and partner with one of the most untrustworthy regimes in the world is costing Canadians lives and livelihoods. We have the worst vaccination record in the G7 with just over 1 million people vaccinated (2.76% of our total population, 39th globally).

Britain, by comparison, has managed to develop a vaccine in their own country by partnering with private companies and have now vaccinated more than 11.5 million people (17% of their total population, 4th globally).

Justin Trudeau could have and should have developed a similar strategy to enable and encourage Canadian businesses to help develop a vaccine. He could have given tax-breaks and financial incentives to big pharmaceutical companies to come back to Canada and develop and manufacture vaccines here. The government could have retrofit buildings to produce vaccines as did Britain. Trudeau didn’t do any of that.

For all his talk about the opportunities this pandemic presents, for all his talk about the best and brightest our great country has to offer, for all his talk about better always being possible, Trudeau took a pass on perhaps the greatest opportunity of them all.

He had the opportunity to harness and highlight the power of the best of this great nation, to bring back some much needed jobs in the process and best of all, to get Canadians vaccinated in a timelier fashion that not only would have saved more lives but would have allowed us to bring our economy back on line. He didn’t take it. He chose to bet on China instead of betting on Canada. I doubt he’ll apologize to Canadians this time, either.

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