He was probably Canada’s favourite dictator.
Canadians may not have approved of the methods Fidel Castro used to govern Cuba. His restrictions on press and political freedom, his insistence that trade unions be government-run and the arbitrary practices of his revolutionary courts would have grated here.
But he successfully stood up to the United States. He nationalized American firms. He fought off a U.S.-backed invasion. He brought in universal health care. He insisted on tweaking the eagle’s beak.
And for that, in this country at least, he was forgiven much.
True, many Canadians agree with Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose who issued a statement Saturday attacking Castro’s “long and oppressive regime.”
But my guess is that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau better caught the mood when he called Castro a “larger-than-life figure who served his people for almost half a century.”
For an entire generation, Castro’s 1959 revolution was a mythic event.
It inspired real revolutionaries. South Africa’s Nelson Mandela modelled his anti-apartheid struggle on Castro’s strategy of guerrilla war.
More Information on Toronto Star