Justin Trudeau won't attend Fidel Castro's funeral

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won't attend next weekend's funeral for former Cuban president Fidel Castro, who died last week at age 90.

Gov. Gen. David Johnston to travel to Cuba for commemoration on Tuesday

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will not attend Fidel Castro's funeral next weekend, his office says. Plans for Canada's representation at the funeral are still being finalized. (Nicholas Kamm, Adalberto Roque/Getty)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won't attend next weekend's funeral for former Cuban president Fidel Castro, the Prime Minister's Office has confirmed, saying only "his schedule doesn't permit" it.

Castro, who seized power in 1959 and controlled the country until 2006 when he relinquished leadership to his brother, died last week at age 90. The funeral service is planned for Sunday

At the request of Trudeau, Gov. Gen. David Johnston will attend a commemoration for Castro in Havana on Tuesday.

Trudeau was widely criticized this weekend for his statement on the passing of the Cuban leader, in which he described the former president as "a  legendary revolutionary and orator" who "made significant improvements to the education and health care of his island nation."

Some critics, such as former foreign affairs minister and now Conservative leadership hopeful Maxime Bernier, called on Trudeau to not attend the funeral.

"Fidel Castro was a brutal dictator who killed and imprisoned countless Cubans while keeping the rest of the country impoverished due to his reckless communist ideology," Bernier said in a statement. 

Castro a dictator?

5 years ago
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had trouble calling Fidel Castro a dictator. It wasn't hard for others. 1:22

The prime minister made his first trip to Cuba as head of government earlier this month, when he met with the island's president, Raul Castro, the younger brother of Fidel.  

It was expected that Trudeau would have a private meeting with Fidel Castro, but the ailing revolutionary's health made that impossible. Instead, Trudeau met with Castro's three sons. 

Castro was an honorary pallbearer at the 2000 funeral of former prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, Justin Trudeau's father.

Zimbabwean, Mexican leaders to attend

The Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin would not attend as he was preparing for a major speech. His close ally and speaker of the Russian State Duma, or lower house of parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, would lead the Russian delegation, it said.

North Korea called for three days of mourning and said it would keep flags at half mast to honour Castro, its state news agency said.

In Japan, Kyodo News said a senior lawmaker would head to Cuba in lieu of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Brazilian President Michel Temer was also not attending, but Robert Mugabe, the 92-year-old president of Zimbabwe, was expected to arrive.

According to The Canadian Press, U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Theresa May will stay away, but Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto will attend. 

Conservative Party leadership hopeful Maxime Bernier, in a statement Monday, called Fidel Castro 'a brutal dictator' and called on Trudeau to not attend the funeral. (CBC News)


  • A secondary headline on an earlier version of this article said Gov. Gen. David Johnston would be attending Fidel Castro's funeral Sunday as well as a commemoration on Tuesday. In fact, he is only attending the commemoration.
    Nov 28, 2016 4:14 PM ET

With files from Reuters and The Canadian Press


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