Misinformation has been a key weapon wielded by Canada’s protest movement, and critics of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have returned to one simmering falsehood: that Mr. Trudeau is the love child of the former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
The conspiracy theory that Mr. Trudeau is Mr. Castro’s son has gained momentum on social media in recent days. It previously spread after Mr. Castro’s death in 2016, when Mr. Trudeau hailed him as “a remarkable leader.” He described Mr. Castro, who ruled as a Communist autocrat for almost 50 years, as “Cuba’s longest-serving president.”
“I know my father was very proud to call him a friend, and I had the opportunity to meet Fidel when my father passed away,” Mr. Trudeau said at the time. His father, Pierre Trudeau, served as prime minister for over 15 years. Pierre Trudeau was the first leader of a NATO member state to visit communist Cuba, and Mr. Castro served as an honorary pallbearer at his funeral, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Some proponents of the falsehood have pointed to a striking resemblance between Mr. Castro and Mr. Trudeau. But the facts don’t add up, and the Canadian government has also previously denied the contention.
Mr. Trudeau’s mother, Margaret, famously traveled to Cuba and met Mr. Castro at the beginning of 1976. But the visit was more than four years after Mr. Trudeau was born, on Dec. 25, 1971. Given her high profile, it would have been highly unlikely for Mrs. Trudeau to have slipped into Cuba undetected.
Misinformation is just one tactic used by some protesters. While the demonstrations outside Canadian Parliament began as loosely organized truck convoys and supporters, the Ottawa police say the protesters are showing signs of increasingly sophisticated methods to target law enforcement operations. On Wednesday night, the Ottawa police emergency line was “almost jammed” by 911 calls, a significant number of them traced to United States addresses, said Peter Sloly, Ottawa’s police chief.
Protesters have also mocked Mr. Trudeau in recent days by showing real images of him in blackface. In 2019, on the eve of federal elections, photos and a video emerged of him dressing up in blackface and brownface in the early 1990s and in 2001.
Mr. Trudeau has long cast himself as a global spokesman for liberal causes, supporting women’s and Indigenous rights, welcoming immigrants and fighting climate change and racism. But that carefully calibrated image suffered a blow at the time.
“All those pictures you’re seeing of Trudeau in blackface are real (but he’s not Castro’s love child),” The National Post, a Canadian newspaper, told its readers on Friday.