When asked at a press conference on March 6 about the allegations that her maternal grandfather was a Nazi collaborator, Chrystia Freeland, newly appointed Foreign Minister of Canada, former journalist and a writer, a master of words, found only clumsy sentences to deliver what would have earned no more than a ‘C’ in a high school debate class.
“It’s no secret that Russians do not like you and banned you from the country,” began the question. “Recently, there has been a series of articles in pro-Russian websites about you and your maternal grandparents, making accusations that [your grandfather] was a Nazi collaborator. I’d like to get your view—is this a disinformation campaign by the Russians to try to smear you and discredit you, which they have a tendency to do?”
With a poorly-camouflaged expression of pain on her face, Freeland replied:
“It’s public knowledge that there have been efforts—as U.S. intelligence sources have said—by Russia to destabilize the U.S. political system. I think that Canadians and indeed other Western countries should be prepared for similar efforts to be directed at us. I am confident in our country’s democracy and I am confident that we can stand up to and see through those efforts.”
“I don’t think it’s a secret,” she continued, “American officials have publicly said—and even [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel has publicly said—that there were efforts on the Russian side to destabilize Western democracies, and I think it shouldn’t come as a surprise if these same efforts were used against Canada. I think that Canadians and indeed other Western countries should be prepared for similar efforts to be directed at them.”
What? Angela Merkel? Was her grandfather a Nazi collaborator or wasn’t he? Freeland dodged the question.
As The Globe and Mail reported, when asked to refute the allegation, her office responded: “People should be questioning where this information comes from, and the motivations behind it.”