The Leader of the Canadian opposition is a lightweight liberal fantasy. If he were to become PM his lack of resolve would be disastrous
Justin Trudeau: Not much more than a pretty face
There was a time when nobody hated Canada. American students would sew Maple Leaf flags to their backpacks, and the New York Times magazine advertised fake Canadian jacket wraps to disguise US passports; the assumption being that hijackers and hoodlums always judge by a cover. Thank God, all that has changed. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has transformed the country’s foreign policy, making Canada a major player in the war on terror, and arguably Israel’s closest ally. His Conservatives are hardly the heirs of Mrs Thatcher, but they have certainly broken the generational chain of left-wing liberalism that was turning the nation into a snowy social democracy.
Heirs, however, are now a major concern. The new leader of the Liberal Party, the natural party of government and effectively the national opposition, is Justin Trudeau, son of Pierre. As prime minister between 1968 and 1984 Pierre Trudeau dominated Canadian politics, and turned the country from a debt-free conservative friend of the West into a “non-aligned post-colonial” country with enormously costly social engineering programmes, and a foreign affairs department that had never met a leftist dictator it didn’t like.
Trudeau abandoned individual freedoms and introduced collective rights, forced through an immigration policy that discriminated against Anglo-Saxons, so as to change Canada’s demographic and cultural identity, and reshaped the country in his own image.
He is gone now, but his ghost still haunts the corridors of the chattering classes, and his stature has grown with distance. Now comes his son. Whatever Pierre may have been, he was not a fool. Well-travelled and highly-educated, he was an impressive man. Not so Justin, a former drama teacher who has never said or written anything of note. But he’s pretty, has relentlessly curly hair, a winning smile and a beautiful wife — and most of all he’s a Trudeau.
His popularity among young people and old movers and shakers made his victory in April over estimable but dull rivals for the leadership of the Liberals inevitable. Despite calling a Conservative minister “a piece of shit” in the House of Commons, threatening to break up the country if it ever even dared discuss reversing its support for same-sex marriage and abortion, and condemning the government when it described female genital mutilation as barbaric, he could be Canada’s next prime minister.
Trudeau’s ambivalence about Islamic radicalism is especially worrying. In 2012 he spoke at a major Islamic conference in Toronto, alongside renowned Islamists. Liberal Muslim, Jewish, gay, and feminist leaders asked to speak to him to explain why the conference was dangerous, but he was apparently too busy to meet any of them. He knows that to win an election, he has to win the Muslim vote.
In many ways it’s less the lightweight Trudeau who is the problem than his handlers, who are the genuine power in this game of Canadian thrones. If he does win, Canada’s domestic and foreign policy are likely to change fundamentally. Trudeau senior caused enormous damage, but arguably in a less volatile age. His son and his people are intent on continuing daddy’s work, in an era where lack of resolve could lead to disaster.