Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Here's Your Change, America

Imagine if you will the emergence of a young charismatic political leader. One who would appeal to the youth vote, inspire a devoted following, and a Beatles like frenzy where ever he went. Imagine an attractive stylish man who would promise to unite a divided country and bring about real change. But if one scratched beneath the surface of this media darling one would find a history of socialist thinking and admiration towards Dictators such as Fidel Castro.

Sound familiar?

It does to Canadians. His name was Pierre Eliot Trudeau and he ruled Canada almost continuously between 1968 and 1984. If Americans want to see what an Obama presidency might look like, or what effects socialist policies might have in the long run they should look to the North.

Trudeau came on to the Canadian political scene in the mid-sixties and benefited greatly from the wave of change that was moving across the Western world. Youth culture was taking shape, all things “old” were being questioned, and aging polititans just weren’t “with it”. Canada was moving with great optimism towards its Centennial celebration and the mood of the country was positive. Now, to look at the young Trudeau’s Austin Power’s fashion sensibilities it’s hard to believe women actually threw their panties at him but he out-styled the stodgy old parliamentarians of the time and “Trudeaumania” swept much of Canada. It was with this mania that Trudeau easily took power in 1968’s Federal election.

Trudeau, the son of a wealthy industrialist, had been pretty much unheard of outside of Quebec before the previous Canadian Prime Minister; Lester B. Pearson had brought him into his cabinet. In his youth Trudeau had supported the socialist New Democratic Party, as well as having worked with Quebec labor unions. During the Liberal Leadership convention prior to the 1968 election Trudeau seemed to come out of the no where and surprised everyone by winning over old party favorite Paul Joseph Martin who was expected to easily take the position.

During the election itself the Liberals campaign focused on Trudeau being the leader of the future who would build a "just society", unite English and French Canada and allow the expansion of social programs. The Progressive Conservatives with and their leader Robert Stanfield didn’t stand a chance. Stanfield was portrayed as a bumbling old man and the Conservatives couldn’t seem to make their minds up on how to deal with an increasingly demanding Francophone population in Quebec. When the votes were counted the Liberals had won over 45% of the popular vote giving Trudeau the majority he needed to make the changes he’d promised.
Trudeau’s economic policy largely based on the theories of the British socialist Harold Laski, whom Ayn Rand based the character Ellsworth Toohey on in her novel “The Fountainhead”. Thanks to these policies between 1968 and 1984 the Canadian National debt rose from $18 billion to $200 billion. Trudeau later brushed off criticism of this debt by noting “it mostly wasn’t foreign held”. Foreign held or not the tax burden it created crippled the Canadian economy while driving many professional Canadians such as Doctors or Engineers to “vote with their feet” by relocating to the United States or elsewhere. Trudeau’s advice to those average Canadians suffering from the bad economic times of the early 1980’s was to “tighten their belts”.

As the Canadian economy began to feel the effects of the Liberals’ policies inflation began to soar. Rather than dealing with the causes of this inflation Trudeau imposed wage and price control legislation. Even with this draconian “cure” Canada saw an annualized inflation rate of 7.63% between when Trudeau came to power and when he finally left office. Unemployment went from 4% in the early 1970s to 11% in 1984, and again Trudeau’s sought to deal with the effect rather than the cause by increasing unemployment benefits, strengthened the power of the Unions, increasing the unemployment insurance bureaucracy. This in turn led to additional taxation to support these policies.

Even during the oil thirsty 1970’s Canada’s resource sector was betrayed by Trudeau’s protectionism and socialism in the form of the “National Energy Program” which regulated free market prices, and effectively destroyed the growth in energy rich Alberta. In 1974 Trudeau’s government created The Foreign Investment Review Agency (FIRA) which put the nail in the coffin of foreign investment in Canada, particularly in the areas of resources and energy development. It was these two policies, and Trudeau’s endless pampering of his voter base in Eastern Canada that laid the groundwork for the regionalism that now dominates Canadian politics.

Trudeau had come into power promising to “unite” Canada, East and West, Francophone and Anglophone in to one strong country. Instead in 1970 when Quebec nationalists the F.L.Q. began a campaign of bombings and kidnappings Trudeau invoked the “War Measures Act” which suspended civil liberties and declared martial law. Although many applauded Trudeau’s get tough approach the heavy handedness of Canadian soldiers being deployed in quiet Quebec streets actually furthered the Quebec separatists cause by forever fixing Canada as “the oppressor” of Quebec and its culture. In contrast to his “tough” approach to the F.L.Q. crisis Trudeau had no problem with negotiating with the terrorist or allowing them to flee to Cuba. Today almost all of the F.L.Q.’s most wanted have either returned unhampered from exile or are free from prison including those involved in kidnapping and murder. One of the F.L.Q.s leaders, Paul Rose was sentenced to life, paroled in 1982 and is now a political leader in Quebec.

The Canadian Justice system also faltered under Trudeau’s rule. More liberal minded Judges were brought in and sentences were changed from the traditional punishment to focus on reform. In 1982 Trudeau’s Liberals replaced the long standing Juvenile Delinquents Act of 1908 with the half thought out “Young Offenders Act”. This progressive bit of legislation applied to anyone between the ages of 12 and 17 and completely protected offenders under the age of 12 from any prosecution at all. The act specified a maximum sentence of two years except in cases where an adult could face life imprisonment, such as murder or manslaughter. In those cases the young offender could be subject to the harsher maximum sentence of three years. The act also imposed identity protection for the offender throughout the court proceedings and often after their release. Needless to say youth crime skyrocketed. Although the Act was replaced by a slightly better one in 2002 Canadian Courts still tend to treat youth crime with incredible leniency, while attempting to regulate gun ownership to control the chronic gang violence now plaguing schools in the larger Metropolitan areas such as Toronto.

Trudeau is remembered as the Prime Minister who fought to save Canada from Quebec separatism and who gave us our Constitution. The Constitution we were given however does little to protect individual rights of Canadians. For example if I were to open a shop anywhere in Quebec and post a sign in English I would be arrested and or fined by the Quebec Government for breaking their language laws. The Canadian Constitution does nothing to protect me, as Quebec has special status under that Constitution. The Canadian Constitution also provides Quebec with an unfair voting advantage in Federal Elections. Even though the population of the Western provinces Ontario and Quebec are equal to that of Quebec they do not receive an equal representation in Parliament. The tiny province of Prince Edward Island receives a guaranteed four seats in Parliament for its population of just over 100,000 people while a section of Toronto receives one seat for the same amount of people. Trudeau’s Constitution which was created under much media fan fair (while the Canadian Economy was at its worse with 12% unemployment) didn’t improve the rights of Canadians beyond insuring Eastern Canada would forever rule over and dictate to the West. This did nothing to appease Quebec and further drove apart the regions with hostility and suspicion. The Canadian Charter of Rights limits rights subject to "limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society." Or in other words you have these rights until we say you don’t. There is no guarantee of property rights included at all.

One proud Canadian institution that suffered the most under Trudeau was The Canadian Military. Canada, like Australia came to age in the trenches of the First World War 50,000 Canadians gave their lives during the Second World War. Trudeau, unlike others of his generation, avoided fighting in the Second World War by joining a seminary. During the War the young intellectual would ride a motorcycle through Montreal’s Jewish quart wearing a German army helmet. While this doesn’t suggest he was a Nazi, it displays the indifference many Quebec intellectuals had regarding the War, which they saw as unjust.

When in power, while he was hobnobbing with various Third World tyrants such as Castro, Trudeau reduced Canadian Military spending to the point where its NATO commitments were impossible to live up to. The government amalgamated the Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Canadian Navy, and the Army into the singular Canadian Armed Forces, thus illuminating the contentions word “Royal” that was the bee in the bonnet of so many in Quebec. The old duty uniforms that had distinguished the services that had fought against Nazi Germany and Japan as well as North Korea were replaced with hideous “pine-scent air-fresher green” outfits that’s soviet style was more befitting a gas station attendant than a soldier, sailor or airman. Equipment fell into disrepair and Canada was unable to even police its own shorelines effectively. It is only with in the last decade that Canada’s military has begun recover from the Trudeau years and the continuation of his policies in subsequent Liberal Governments since.

To understand the degree of which Trudeau memorized many Canadians, especially those in the areas of culture and media, one only has to look at how Trudeau has been canonized since his death in 2000. Former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (arguably the most unpopular Prime Minister in Canada’s history) has recently come under attack for “speaking ill of the dead” in his memoirs, and in 2006 when authors Max and Monique Nemni’s “Young Trudeau: Son of Quebec, Father of Canada, 1919-1944” painted a picture of Trudeau as an anti-Semite and admirer of Mussolini many saw their well researched book as nothing short of blasphemy. Trudeau is proclaimed as the savior of Canada despite Quebec’s continued separatist efforts and a bitter regionalism that dominates Canada’s parliament. After his death in 2000 some Canadians lay roses on the train tracks as his coffin was transported to his funeral which was attended by long time friend Fidel Castro and President Jimmy Carter. Ironic as he once gave the finger to a group of unemployed protesters from the comforts of his luxury train car as he traveled by them.

Canadian tax payers continue to pay for Trudeau’s policies quite literally with an annual $ 125 million tax dollars being used to fund “The Trudeau Foundation” which is supposed to provide for 100 doctoral and post-doctoral students and to preserve Trudeau’s ideas.

You would think Canada had already paid enough for those ideas.


  1. Better do more research. Pierre Trudeau was not the son of a wealthy industrialist. His dad owned a couple of gas stations in Napierville Quebec.

  2. Do better research??? YOU do better research you halfwit. His father WAS a weathly industrialist.

    "Joseph Trudeau (1848 - 1919) Trudeau built a fortune by building a number of gas stations around the Montreal area. Among his investments, Trudeau had interests in mining companies and was a shareholder and a member of the Board of Directors of the Montreal Royals baseball team. He also had a financial interest in Montreal's Belmont Park."

    How many "gas station owners" are asked to be directors on big sports teams in a major city.


  3. We now have Barack Trudeau as our dear leader.