Congresswoman says ‘our neighbors to the north need to be liberated’, prompting widespread condemnation
The Republican congresswoman Lauren Boebert was condemned for comparing the Russian invasion of Ukraine to the clearing of a truckers’ protest in Ottawa, saying: “We also have neighbors to the north who need freedom and who need to be liberated.”
A former US ambassador to Canada called the comments “reckless” and “dangerous”.
A protest in imitation of the Canadian truckers has been making its away across the US. It is expected in Washington this week.
Anthony Housefather, a Liberal member of the Canadian parliament, told Boebert that “while it’s good that you are not following the Trump line and are standing with Ukraine instead of Putin, it is sad to hear you compare free and democratic Canada to the invasion of Ukraine.
“If you would like to learn about Canada please reach out.”
She was discussing the Ukraine invasion at CPAC, the conservative event in Florida, in an interview with Fox Nation hosts Pete Hegseth and Kayleigh McEnany, the latter a former White House press secretary under Donald Trump.
Trump has condemned the invasion but repeatedly praised Putin.
Boebert said: “I pray for Ukraine and I wish them the best.”
She also praised the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, whose response to an evacuation offer was widely reported.
“They have a great president right now who really said, clearly, ‘Live free or die’,” Boebert said, reaching for the New Hampshire state motto before paraphrasing Zelenskiy, saying: “I don’t need a ride, give me ammunition. The fight is right here.”
She continued, saying: “But we also have neighbors to the north who need freedom and you need to be liberated and we need that right here at home.”
It was a reference to the “Freedom Convoy”, a truckers’ protest which choked downtown Ottawa this month. The protest began against vaccine mandates but morphed into a protest against the government of Justin Trudeau.
The prime minister used emergency powers to aid the effort to end the protest, which saw police and protesters clash in the snowy streets of the Canadian capital.
Many in Canada and the US reacted to Boebert’s comments with anger.
Bruce Heyman, who was US ambassador to Canada under Barack Obama, said the congresswoman’s remarks were “reckless, dangerous and [crossed] every line of diplomacy and decency. Boebert would have been expelled from the Republican party before Trump but [is] now the darling of CPAC.
“Canada is our best friend, best trading partner, closest ally and should be treated as such.”