9 Aug 2013 Toronto Sun – editorial by John Robson
Justin Trudeau: Like father, like son
Is Justin Trudeau the second coming of Pierre? Justin Trudeau is actually very like his father. For instance, he’s brave, physically tough, frank and charismatic. Unfortunately, he’s also shallow, precious, inconsistent and narcissistic.
Yes, shallow. I’ve been reading Bob Plamondon’s excellent The Truth about Trudeau, infuriating even for a hardened Trudeau Sr. hater because of its repeated reminders of his inconsistency.
Not only would Pierre say one thing in public and another in private, or one thing in English and another in French, he would also uphold a principle haughtily for decades, then do the opposite without blinking, and sneer at critics of the contradiction. For instance, his famous scorn for civil liberties in invoking the War Measures Act.
I have some sympathy there, and think Trudeau understood the viciousness of the FLQ not least because, as Plamondon details, he held appallingly similar views in his youth. Nevertheless, it cannot be overlooked that he behaved exactly like the Duplessis he despised.
Or rather, it evidently can, because he did. Just as his famous “Viva Fidel” and praise for Mao and the Soviet system would have struck a more reflective man as inconsistent. But he was not that man. Now his son seems as blind to radical Islam as he was to militant Communism, and as convinced a moral relativist over female genital mutilation as his father was over Nazi war crimes. In many ways, Pierre Trudeau was simply too convinced of his own brilliance, too witty and too privileged ever to do much deep thinking.
He studied economics in his youth, drew all the wrong conclusions, never reconsidered, did great damage to Canada, then lied that he knew little about it, a characteristically frivolous piece of mischief.
Even his inclusion of collective rights in the Charter of Rights was inconsistent with his expressed principles less from hypocrisy than a flippant refusal to think things through at all. Like father, like son.
Plamondon notes, “In his memoirs he (Pierre) wrote that during his high school and university years he did not read newspapers or listen to the news on the radio.”
On arriving at Harvard in 1944 he realized he’d missed the Second World War … but had no regrets.
And in 2001 Justin said, “I don’t read the newspapers. I don’t watch the news. If something important happens, someone will tell me.”
In both cases one sees a peculiar immaturity. In 1952, when Pierre was past 30, the U.S. State Department noted his “infantile desire to shock,” while Canadian diplomats told American colleagues he was adventurous “but did not possess much common sense”.
And Justin somehow remains very young in his 40s (an occasion he marked with a huge 20-something-style tattoo). If they hold up, these similarities bode ill for policy.
For instance, Trudeau Sr. avoided commitments in his first election, beyond a hopelessly vague and impractical “Just Society,” because he anticipated Socratic dialogue with Canadians.
When that failed, he governed in an arrogant, disastrous and inconsistent manner, as Plamondon catalogues, reducing immigration, failing to increase foreign aid, neglecting the environment and letting interest payments crowd out social programs.
And Justin has avoided detailed commitments because he plans to consult with Canadians.
Justin need not be Pierre. Some men admire their fathers while learning from their mistakes.
But all these similarities should make people think twice about a son who, like his father, never seems to.