Many Canadian voters don't seem to remember Pierre Elliot Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada from 1968-1983 (minus 9 months somewhere there in the late 1970's). For those who don't it's worth recalling who the man was.
PET, as he was unaffectionately known, was a very intelligent man. Unfortunately he also had a good dose of narcissism and the belief that he was not only very smart but was the smartest man in the country. He balanced this with a sense of comptent for all those who were less intelligent than him; his cabinet ministers, his caucus, and the great unwashed masses of voters who were, unfortunately in his eyes, necessary to ensure he remained prime minister because, after all, no one was as well qualified as him for the job.
Those of us who actually remember his rule and aren't dependent on the hagiographizing the CBC did after he left power and turned him into some kind of saint remember that his rule started with "Trudeaumania" and ended with corruption, binge government spending and a sinking of Canada's reputation in the world.
His was the government that introduced mandatory bilingualism into the civil service, thus ensuring French Quebecois dominance of that area. He is remembered for effectively fighting the separatist forces in the 1980 Quebec referendum but, as author George Jonas as noted in The National Post on more than one occasion, that was because he was trying to deliver the whole country to the French, not just one province.
He was also morally corrupt, seeing virtue in mass murderers and autocratic thugs like Mao Zedong and Fidel Castro which heaping disrespect on American presidents and the Queen of Canada, Elizabeth II.
And now, decades later, we in Canada are faced with the possibility of another Trudeau ascending "the throne", as it were. PET's son Justin, the current leader of the Liberal party, is currently sitting pretty in the polls. There is no federal election scheduled until next year but if the current numbers hold there is a good possibility of him becoming the next prime minister.
What do we know about Justin?
Well, unlike his father who had an actual long-term career before entering politics Justin really hasn't accomplished anything. He taught here and there for short periods of time and.... well that's about it. No prior history of leadership positions. No real deep experience with national policy making.
Then there's his beliefs, something he's very happy to share. He has let us know, for example, that he admires the Chinese government because they can inflict their policy on the population without having to waste time with such annoyances as consulting that population. He sees tremendous potential for this model when it comes to implementing environmental policies, for example. Democracy, it would seem, is as much an annoyance for him as it was for his father. It's silly to rely on the general voting public because they might not make the right decision, ie. the one he wants to make.
He's also very selective on who he thinks a real Canadian is. He looks to Quebec and its famously permissive and moral simplistic culture and has opined, again publicly, that if the rest of the country develops a more conservative bent then Quebec would be justified in seceding from Canada so these liberal values of theirs aren't affected. In other words, he's a loyal Canadian only as long as Canada reflects his values.
There was his publicity stunt in which he fired all Liberal senators from his party in order to show his seriousness on Senate reform. Now, for my American reader(s), it is important to understand that the Canadian Senate is not equivalent to the American one. It is a house of patronage, a place media celebrities and failed politicians go to retire and suck off the public teat until their turn 75. It rarely does anything productive and if it disappeared into a giant sinkhole its absence would take weeks to be noticed.
On the surface, then, Trudeau's stunt was a good one. We don't like senators, so his party no longer has them. Unfortunately he made this decision without telling any Liberal senators, some of them good party members since his father was prime minister. Few of them agreed and they still call themselves Liberals and feel they're part of the party. A great stunt that changed nothing.
Finally there's his most recent announcement. Again, for my American reader(s) it's worth noting that Canada has not had any laws regulating abortion since the late 1980's when the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the existing ones. Any attempt to bring up the discussion of some kind of regulation or at least oversight brings out the usual crew of harpies who scream "You hate women! You're all fascist arseholes" and the like. In this regard I'm jealouse of the USA. The discussion there may be heated but at least there's a discussion. In Canada no one wants to bring up the subject because they don't want to deal with the histrionics.
And Trudeau is fine with that. So fine, in fact, that he announced that anyone who is pro-life is persona non-grata within the Liberal party. Yes, he clarified that he doesn't expect people to change their personal beliefs. Pro-lifers can still join the party but once they are members they must publicly support abortion just like he, a good Roman Catholic, does.
All this before the man has achieved an ounce of power. Can you imagine the demagogery he'll unleash once he actually does?