As I've noted before, it is currently fashionable among those on the right side of the aisle (that's right-wing, not necessarily "right" as in "correct") to blame all of Canada's current woes on Pierre Trudeau.
Indeed, the vilification of the man has reached insane proportions.
"Last week I attended a packed house debate at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) on whether or not the late Pierre Trudeau was a disaster for Canada.
To his eternal credit, my son-in-law, that nice David Frum, argued the affirmative, while John English, author of two books on Trudeau, argued the opposite.
The debate was part of a series of lively debates at the ROM, and if this one is any indication, the idea is a winner.
I wondered if the topic was chosen because of a survey conducted by the Canadian National Historical Society’s magazine The Beaver that named Trudeau the “worst Canadian” — worse, even than Clifford Olson (ninth), Paul Bernardo (fifth), or Conrad Black (tenth). An eclectic hate list."
Come on people!! Worse than a couple of serial killers? Gimme a break!!
Now, I admire Peter Worthington, the author of the above article. He's one of those rarest of breeds in Canadian journalism - a conservative, who for decades had been pretty much a lone voice in the Canadian MSM wilderness. He now has company
, thank goodness.
But, I really must challenge some of his assertions, as detailed in the article:
"While I share Frum’s view, it should be noted that the Canada we live in today is largely Trudeau’s doing and cannot be undone.
Bull. There is plenty we can do about it, and I believe we are on the road to doing that.
"In no particular order, here some other points to consider.
Trudeau unnecessarily gave Canada a written Constitution which, in effect, means if it ain’t written down, we don’t have it. There is no clause giving Canadians the “right” to own property – a right that was excluded from the earlier Bill of Rights.
The Constitution guarantees the right of assembly — i.e. to join a union – but no right not to join a union. To have one but not the other is wrong and potentially damaging."
More bull. The forging of the Constitution was the work of the Prime Minister and ten provincial premiers, lest you forget. Also, the constitution contains an amending formula. Perhaps it's time to dust that off and create a "first amendment" of our own. It might help if we put aside our whipping boy and take responsibility ourselves for the problems we see in our times. We've certainly had enough time to learn what some of the problematic areas of the constitution are. What are we waiting for? I am reminded of how some people remain perpetually adolescent, blaming the older generations, never growing up.
"Trudeau brought in our Official Languages policy that is hugely expensive and divisive. Unity based on two official languages does not work well – witness Switzerland and Belgium, where language divisions prevail."
True enough, Trudeau could have stopped that policy from ever seeing the light of day, but, Mr. Worthington, have you forgotten the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism
? That was Lester Pearson's baby. And it was the recommendations of that Commission that Trudeau implemented. It was supported by the Progressive Conservatives and the New Democrats.
"Multiculturalism is a Trudeau legacy that was forced on the country rather than evolving naturally. Instead of a melting pot, Canada was forced into a mosaic of oft-competing interests, making unity more difficult. Witness the push by some to have Sharia law imposed."
Just when did we abandon our responsibility to address issues as they arise and just when did any politician, or polity for that matter, possess crystal balls? Yes. Policies implemented all those years ago have proven to be the wellspring of some pretty dicey issues today, but it is today's politicians that need to address them and hopefully solve them.
But we have to elect them. That's why the Conservatives now have a majority. We want our country to move forward in a different direction, and, perhaps, if we can keep the Liberals out long enough, we can and should dismantle some of the Trudeau era legacy.
But we won't, if all we can do is sit around and whine about the past. It's high time we started living in the here and now, which, IMHO, requires that we let Trudeau be judged by the standards of his time. And that is something I hope to examine in a future post.
In the meantime, it's time to address issues at hand and to do that, we need to understand that every generation inherits problems whose roots are in the past. Trudeau era initiatives are hardly the only policies in our history that have needed a thorough vetting and overhaul.
"Trudeau sought to gut and trivialize the Canadian military, by ever reducing the military budget while encouraging inflation. In the early days of his reign, he investigated withdrawing from NATO."
Yes, but once again, consider the times. Just a few years prior to Trudeau becoming PM, his predecessor, Lester Pearson, won the Nobel Peace Prize
for implementing the UN Peacekeeper idea and resolving the Suez crisis
. Perhaps, if Canada's role on the international stage was to be one of Peacekeeping, a robust and well funded armed forces was not in the cards. Always remember, that in history, one must understand the prevailing sentiments of the times. This was the '60s, after all.
"He admired dictators like Fidel Castro and especially Mao Zedong, of whom he wrote admiringly in his book Two Innocents in Red China, where he felt the pain Mao endured for the Chinese people – whom he killed by the millions.
When as PM he visited the Soviet Union, Trudeau said the KGB fulfilled much the same role as the RCMP – which was a canard because the RCMP is nothing like the KGB with its network of spies, informers, surveillance in every office and apartment complex, cultural center, sporting facility. Nor does the RCMP assassinate presumed enemies."
Mr. Worthington. You're an old man. Perhaps your memory fails. Mine does too, sometimes. But I do remember when CSIS was formed. Prior to that, it was indeed, the RCMP that was our spy agency
. While it's true that neither the RCMP nor CSIS are as ruthless and murderous as the KGB, perhaps you are reading a bit too much into Trudeau's statement. After all, it was on his watch that the separation of the two services took place.
"He lied to the Canadian people when he justified his Soviet sponsored visit to Moscow in 1952 as head of a Canadian communist delegation, on grounds that he threw snowballs at Stalin’s statue – in April, when there was no snow."
Well, this I did not know. But again, consider the times.
"On the positive side, Trudeau’s finest hour was during the FLQ crisis when he imposed the War Measures Act which ended the crisis and soothed the country. Unmentioned was that Trudeau knew and had worked with many of the FLQ activists, and took them seriously as a threat to Canada."
Yes. I too believe the FLQ crisis to be his finest hour. Perhaps his actions during that crisis need to be considered when evaluating his alleged commie sympathies in 1952. He was 33 years old in 1952. At the age of 33 I too was still a starry-eyed idealist and found fairy tales very appealing. Most of us put away childish things, though, and grow up. It's time Canada did.
Trudeaumania belongs in the same class as Beatlemania, a youthful craze, but the rank and file member of the Liberal Party of Canada chose him as their leader, and there were far more older folks in the party than gob-smacked teens. And in 1968, when he first became Prime Minister, only the earliest baby-boomers were eligible to vote. (The voting age was still 21, remember, meaning only those born in 1950 or earlier could have had a role to play in his becoming PM in 1968 and probably even fewer can be blamed for his assumption of the Liberal Party leadership. The older folks must have been smitten, too.)
Anyway, I've had my interest piqued, so I've been reading up on the Trudeau era, which I lived through myself and, consequently, have something of an eye-witness take on the times. Expect more.
PS: A podcast of the debate Worthington and Frum speak about is available here
Labels: AARRRRRRGGGHHHH, Canada, Canadian politics, history, Memory Lane, Trudeaus