The Unpenetrated Problem of Pierre Trudeau (1982)

Category:  Historical Reprints
Source:  “The Unpenetrated Problem of Pierre Trudeau” by Lubor J. Zink, 25 June 1982, National Review.


If there is any one constant in my thinking, it is to be
against the establishment or the accepted ideas of the day.

— P. E. Trudeau                         

The Unpenetrated Problem of Pierre Trudeau By Lubor J. Zink (1982)

AT A RECENT PARTY in the Kremlin, Canada’s Am­bassador, Geoffrey Pearson, was introduced to Leonid Brezhnev.  The old man, who doesn’t say anything without reading it from a paper handed to him, lingered over the handshake as the mention of Canada lit a circuit in his mind.  When his dour face brightened momentarily, he uttered a single word:  Trudeau.

At his pre-Christmas press conference in Ottawa, Prime Minister Trudeau stated that the military dictatorship in Po­land need not be bad if it prevents civil war.

These two vignettes do not come anywhere near to brack­eting the enigma of Canada’s prime minister, but they may indicate why Canadians find the man fascinatingly perplex­ing even after 13 years in office.

The reason for the voters’ failure to make their usual quick assessment of the man they put in charge is that Pierre El­liott Trudeau is an unprecedented phenomenon in Canadian politics.  There never was an ideologically motivated prime minister in Ottawa before Trudeau.  Hence there is no yard­stick for taking the measure of the man.  There aren’t even familiar points of reference for mental orientation.  And ev­ery time the public image of the longest-serving current head of government in the Western world seems to gel, Trudeau smashes it again.

Canada’s 15th prime minister is a man of many faces and seemingly baffling paradoxes:

  • A prima-donna rebel who has become the establishment.
  • An antimilitarist who denounced the struggle with Nazism as an “imperialist war,” who has decimated Canada’s armed forces during his 13 years as prime minister, but who sup­ports Marxist “liberation wars” — except within the Soviet orbit (i.e., in Poland).
  • An advocate of “participatory democracy” who has de­graded and gutted Parliament under the guise of efficiency reforms.
  • A fighter for revolution in industrial relations, and work­ers’ partnership in the “economic democracy” of his abstract “new society,” who got so incensed by a demonstration of striking flesh-and-blood workers that he rolled down the window of his $80,000 armored Cadillac and yelled at the freezing marchers:  “Mangez de la merde!”  A preacher of the “just society” who would use an archaic Official Secrets Act to prosecute a newspaper which leaked a police report on Soviet spying and subversion that the gov­ernment wanted to keep under wraps so as not to “endan­ger detente,” but who would not prosecute an academic who admits to having been a Soviet agent for thirty years and boasts of immunity because he could compromise too many people in high places.
  • A champion of human rights who went to Moscow to sign a Friendship Protocol with the most repressive regime in the world but canceled an appearance at a plowing contest in Ontario because of the participation of a white farmer from Rhodesia.
  • A politician perennially re-elected as head of Canada’s perpetually ruling Liberal Party, which he has led from a national force to a regional rump.  (When Trudeau replaced Lester Pearson in 1968, the Liberal Party controlled half of the ten provincial governments and represented all parts of Canada in Parliament.  There is not a single provincial Lib­eral government left, and more than half of Trudeau’s ma­jority in Parliament comes from his French-speaking home province of Quebec.  Western Canada rejects Trudeau so completely that no Liberal candidate was elected west of Winnipeg in the 1980 elections.)

The list of such apparent paradoxes is endless.  The few random samples given should suffice to convey some of the complexity and fascination of the Trudeau phenomenon.  Yet anyone willing to take a closer look will find that there is no mystery and few, if any, real paradoxes.  Like Hitler in Mein Kampf, Trudeau early in his career put on paper with admirable frankness and clarity everything he believes in, and every tactical twist he has eventually used to bolster his rigid ideology.  Few people bothered to read Mein Kampf; fewer still have read Trudeau’s political essays and articles.  And those who have sampled his three most important books (The Asbestos Strike, Approaches to Politics, and Federalism and the French Canadians) find it hard to believe that he could have meant what he wrote.  It tends to be dismissed as youthful radicalism of the tail-end of the Marxist generation of the 1930s.

Only now are Trudeau’s “constitutional renewal,” his blatantly socialist budget, and his National Energy Policy (NEP) beginning to be perceived as a radical restructuring of the country’s market economy and liberal democracy.  The uneasiness about this is aggravated by a looming showdown with the separatist government of Quebec and by Western Canada’s political discontent at a time when its economic importance is growing.  Many in whom the notion was deeply ingrained that it did not matter who was in charge in Ottawa because no one could do any real harm to Canada are taking a closer look at the man who seems to be encouraging, perhaps even generating, the ferment.

* * *

Trudeau’s biography is fairly straightforward.  The first of three children of a French-speaking Montreal lawyer who made money in the amusement-park and service-station businesses, Pierre Elliott (the Elliott is his half-Scottish mother’s family name) was born in October 1919.  After graduating from Jean de Brebeuf College, an exclusive Jesuit school, he studied law at the University of Montreal.  There followed postgraduate courses in economics and political science at Harvard, l’Ecole des Sciences Politiques in Paris, and the London School of Economics.  In the late 1940s young Trudeau traveled through Eastern Europe and the Far East.  On returning to Canada he worked as a labor lawyer.  In 1951 he helped found a small political review called Cité Libre, around which a group of “progressive” intellectuals formed to fight the authoritarian Quebec government of Maurice Duplessis.  In 1961, when Quebec’s nascent “quiet revolution” loosened the smothering theocracy of the French-speaking province, Trudeau finally got the teaching appointment at the University of Montreal that the established Catholic hierarchy had blocked until then.  In 1965 he was elected to Parliament from a safe Liberal district in Montreal.  Two years later he entered the Pearson cabinet as justice minister, and in 1968 he replaced Pearson as leader of the Liberal Party and prime minister of Canada.

This simple biographical rundown adds a bit of background to the understanding of the Trudeau phenomenon and Canada’s gradual slide into a turmoil of radical change.  The process has been gathering momentum for well over a decade.  What has brought on the present crisis is the surfacing, in the windup of Trudeau’s constitutional “renewal,” of an accumulation of previously unnoticed changes.

Trudeau’s “patriation” of Canada’s constitution — the 115-year-old British North America Act — is hailed as “a new chapter in Canadian history.”  It is an apt phrase.  For what is involved is not just the formality of transfer and “Canaianization” of the old Westminster statute.  (The British would have gladly done that in the 1930s had the Canadians been able to agree, as the other Dominions did, on the terms of transfer.)  What is really involved is a major step toward a sweeping transformation of Canada from a liberal parliamentary democracy into a centrally planned state — a fundamental reshaping of political, economic, and social structures to codify the invisible revolution of values and attitudes that has been going on for a dozen years.  Today we can start to see a recognizable pattern in the jigsaw puzzle of political and economic measures Trudeau has been putting together since 1968.  The reshaping of the constitutional framework is marred only by Quebec’s refusal to fit in.  (Since the final stage was forced to make the French-speakers “feel more comfortable” in confederation, there is irony in Quebec’s refusal to enter the “new chapter in Canadian history.”)  Not only have unsuspecting voters been confused by what has been going on, but fairly sophisticated observers, including Trudeau’s biographers, have been as well.  They miss

Trudeau’s economic theories
are usually described
as ‘Fabian socialism’ and
his ruining of the
market economy as bungling

the ideological dogmatism buried under pragmatic operational expediency.  John T. Saywell, one of Trudeau’s early academic boosters, came close to conveying the difficulty of grasping the essence of the man when he wrote in his introduction to the English edition of Trudeau’s political essays (1968):  “To many people, P. E. Trudeau has seemed enigmatic and paradoxical:  a man of substantial wealth, yet a democratic socialist …”

Still, Trudeau’s political philosophy is no mystery.  All its essentials, and his concept of the “new society” he seeks to construct, are in his earliest writings, dating back to the 1950s.  Some of the formulations may have been refined over the years, but the theoretical premises and conclusions that have shaped his elitist social radicalism remain unchanged.  And since the theory-testing necessity of earning a living in the real world never arose, Trudeau’s juvenile radicalism has hardened into cocksure intellectual arrogance.

* * *

Trudeau started on the road to progressive enlightenment when a friend give him a copy of Esprit, a review of France’s Catholic Left.  Both Esprit and its founder, Emmanuel Mounier, whom Trudeau met later in Paris, had a profound influence on him.  (Mounier’s thesis that “a Christian can adopt most political positions of Communism and conclude alliances with it” may have had particular impact.)  Through the Catholic Left Trudeau discovered Marx, the materialistic (“class struggle”) interpretation of history, and a way to atone for unearned privileges through social radicalism.  From the start, however, Trudeau rejected revolutionary violence and concentrated on finding ways and means for the nonviolent transformation of “dying capitalism” into a “new international socialist society”.  He wants multicultural Canada to pioneer the process for the rest of the world.

Trudeau rejected and condemned “the inequities inherent in economic liberalism” in The Asbestos Strike (La grève de l’Amiante), which he edited in 1956.  He also rejected the welfare state and traditional trade-union efforts to improve wages and working conditions as deceptions of the working class which delay radical socio-economic change.  “Behind the solid ramparts of the police and certain theology,” he wrote, “the propertied class is cleverly working to adorn the old system of ownership with new and less provocative finery.”  What was needed as the “peoples of the earth became more oriented toward the Left” was to “go forward with the caravan of humanity.”  That required redistribution of wealth, a planned economy, and “industrial democracy.”  In 1958 Trudeau wrote in Cité Libre:

… it seems to me that the regime of free enterprise has shown itself incapable of adequately resolving problems (of contemporary society).  That’s why I am personally convinced that with the upheavals inherent in automation, cybernetics, and nuclear energy, liberal democracy will not long be able to satisfy our growing demands for justice and liberty. … I believe in the necessity of state control to maximize the liberty and welfare of all.

In 1961 he added:  “The erroneous, liberal idea of property helped to emancipate the bourgeoisie but is now hampering the march toward economic democracy.”  However, nationalization of the means of production was, in his opinion, no longer absolutely necessary because it could in many cases be replaced “by more flexible processes of economic control and redistribution.”

In 1965 (the year he entered federal politics), Trudeau said:

The state must use its legal powers to compel the economic community to favor certain values that would otherwise be destroyed by the pressure of economic forces … values in danger of being swamped by the flood of dollars.

After one year as prime minister, Trudeau felt so confident about setting Canada on the course to his “new society” without anyone noticing what he was doing that he said in an interview:

One has to be in the wheelhouse to see what shifts are taking place.  I know we have spun the wheel and I know that the rudder is beginning to press against the waves and the sea … but perhaps the observer, who is on the deck smoking his pipe, or drinking his tea, sees the horizon much in the same direction and does not realize it, but perhaps he will find himself disembarking at a different island than the one he thought be was sailing for.

This deception, which should have caused alarm in 1969, passed virtually unnoticed.

To achieve radical change through democratic means, Trudeau needed to convince voters that the free-enterprise system is unable to cope with contemporary problems.  By 1975 the consequence of reckless government overspending and of the systematic crippling of the private sector of the economy reached such damaging proportions that Trudeau felt it safe to declare:

We haven’t been able to make it work, the free-market system.  We’ve ended up with very high unemployment and very high inflation.  We can’t go back to what was before. … That means the government is going to take a larger role in running institutions.

A few months later he introduced a set of “principles [which] could ultimately reshape the nature of government’s role in our society.”  Called The Way Ahead and ostensibly treated as a discussion paper, it was in fact the first comprehensive blueprint of the centralized planning of his “new society.”

Trudeau’s economic theories are usually described as “Fabian socialism,” and his ruining of the market economy as bungling.  He himself lists Harold Laski, under whom he studied at the LSE, as “the most stimulating and powerful influence,” and one of his three heroes (the other two are Machiavelli and Mao Tse-tung).  However, his criticism of the welfare state and of trade-union activities because they divert labor from class war leaves little doubt that Fabian economics (as distinct from some of the Fabians’ political precepts) could not have carried much weight with him.  In fact, many of Trudeau’s economic concepts can be traced to his Harvard teacher Joseph Schumpeter, and to Wassily Leontief.

While the importance of these two economists in the shaping of Trudeau’s mind has escaped most Canadians, it obviously wasn’t lost on the talent scouts in Moscow.  They must have been keeping a hopeful eye on the wealthy Quebec radical ever since he “hitchhiked” behind the Iron Curtain after the 1948 Communist coup in Czechoslovakia.  (Trudeau later said that much of his travel in the late Forties, which eventually took him to China during the last stages of Mao’s takeover, was done at the expense of Communist organizations and their fronts, such as the Prague-based International Union of Students.)

From “flirting with Marxism” at the LSE, as another Canadian student there, Robert McKenzie, later described it, Trudeau went on to help radicalize the 1949 Asbestos strike in Quebec, before playing his part in the founding of Cité Libre in 1951.  Evidence of Soviet interest in Trudeau came in 1952 when he was invited to attend an “international economic conference” staged in Moscow with the help of such key Communist-front organizations as the World Peace Council and the World Federation of Trade Unions.  Trudeau was listed as the leader of the Canadian delegation, whose other five members were all Communists, although he himself was not a regular Communist Party member.

Although going to the Moscow conference meant rejecting Justice Minister Stuart Garson’s advice,  Trudeau to this day prides himself on having been “one of the few prepared

Pierre Trudeau's parliamentary shell game

to stick his neck out,” as he put it at a 1977 press conference.  Asked during the 1968 campaign for leadership of the Liberal Party what he had been doing in Moscow during the Stalin era, he said he was “throwing snowballs at Stalin’s statues.”  (Toronto Sun editor Peter Worthington, at that time bureau chief in Moscow, checked meteorological reports and found there wasn’t a speck of snow in Moscow during the 1952 conference.)

Harmless fibbing?  Perhaps.  But not when it’s part of a pattern of public deceptions.  The pattern started with misrepresentation of Trudeau’s age in the Liberal leadership campaign, making him two years younger than he was.  Had he admitted his correct age, he would have been the second oldest on a slate of 11 candidates — a blow to the “swinger” image his trendy propaganda buildup had painted.  (Asked whether he still had his Mercedes, Trudeau quipped:  “The car or the girl?”)  Minus two years he appeared to be the second youngest in the race.  By the time the “joke” was discovered it had served its purpose.  From then on increasingly serious deceptions of “obtuse voters” (Trudeau’s description) became standard operating practice.  As always, Trudeau put his ideas of “operational pragmatism” on paper.

In a seminal essay titled “The Practice and Theory of Federalism,” which first appeared in Social Purpose for Canada — a 1961 blueprint for social change produced by a group of socialist academics — Trudeau wrote:

I should like to see socialists feeling free to espouse whatever political trends or to use whatever constitutional tools happen to fit each particular problem at each particular time.

He cautioned against scaring a parochial, conservative electorate with the radical rhetoric socialist parties are fond of using.  The best way to achieve radical change, he wrote as far back as 1956, was by “entering one of the old parties and changing them from the inside.”  Socialist policies can then be imposed on unsuspecting voters under the reassuring label of the old party.

Trudeau also disagreed with the prevailing notion in left-wing circles that it is easier to achieve socialism in a unitary than in a federal state.  “Federalism,” he wrote, “must be welcomed as a valuable tool which permits dynamic parties to plant socialist governments in certain provinces, from which the seed of radicalism can slowly spread.”  He cited the example of China:

The experience of that superb strategist Mao Tse-tung might lead us to conclude that in a vast and heterogeneous country, the possibility of establishing socialist strongholds in certain regions is the very best thing.

That did not mean, he explained, that socialists have to act and talk the same way in every part of a vast federal structure.  On the contrary, he wanted socialists to implant radicalism in different parts of Canada “in different fashions,” exploiting local circumstances, the better to deceive the voters.

For a time parties with the same name may find themselves preaching policies differing in scope from one province to another.  (On the other hand) different parties with different names may preach the same ideology in different provinces.

All that, of course, requires careful planning and cunning application.

So long as socialism is to seek fulfillment through parliamentary democracy with its paraphernalia of parties and elections, there will be a constant need for the tactician, as well as the theorist.  And both will have to be reconciled by the strategist.

The tone of his lecturing to fellow socialists left no doubt even twenty years ago about Trudeau’s distaste for parliamentary democracy, or about his certainty that he knew what’s best for “the people” and what strategy and tactics to use in building the “new society.”  The intellectual arrogance of that stance comes through most clearly when Trudeau states in his key essay:

And in terms of political tactics, the only real question democratic socialists must answer is:  “Just how much reform can the majority of the people be brought to desire at the present time?” [Emphasis added.]

How much reform the people can be “brought to desire” became Trudeau’s principal concern from the time he became prime minister in 1968.  He labeled the process “participatory democracy.”  It boils down to manipulating public opinion to make it “desire” what the planning socialist elite (in fact

It was as if the unconventional
millionaire radical
personified the people’s
yearning for escape from the
drabness of subarctic life

its philosopher-king, in the “leadership democracy” Trudeau once likened to “benign despotism”) has decided people should want and get from the omnipotent state.  Parliament is not only superfluous “paraphernalia” but becomes a nuisance.  So it has to be “reformed” into ornamental impotence.  That process is now far along.

Before Trudeau could put his theories of tactical deception to the test of practical politics, he had first to join and turn the ruling party to his use.  It seemed an impossible task, for only two years before he ran for Parliament as a freshly minted Liberal, he was denouncing the Liberal Party in Cité Libre as a “bunch of idiots” who follow like “a spineless herd” their “defrocked priest of peace” (a contemptuous description of Lester Pearson’s reversal of the Liberals’ antinuclear policy).  The problem was resolved when Pearson, who headed a precarious minority government after the 1963 election, thought he could win a clear majority with the support of the Quebec labor vote.  To that end he lured leftist labor leader Jean Marchand with a cabinet portfolio.  Marchand eventually succumbed on condition that the Liberals also take two of his Cité Libre friends, a journalist named Gérard Pelletier (now Canada’s ambassador to the UN), and Pierre Trudeau.  There was consternation among ranking Liberals in Quebec who considered Pelletier and Trudeau doctrinaire socialists, but Pearson wanted Marchand so badly that his two unacceptable friends were accepted.  There was a bit of a problem finding a constituency for Trudeau (several ridings rejected him as their Liberal candidate), but eventually a posh district of Montreal was secured for Trudeau’s nomination and election.

After the election the three Quebec socialists issued a statement of support for their old Cité Libre goals.  “We have only resolved,” they said, “to pursue elsewhere and in other ways the intellectual and social struggle which has always claimed us.”  Trudeau’s combination of Jesuit sophistry and Marxist certitudes cut through the Ottawa mush of petty partisan bickering like a knife through butter.  Under his direction “the three wise men.” as the Quebec socialist troika began to be called, soon dominated the parliamentary caucus of the Liberal Party.  Impressed by Trudeau’s sharp mind and debating skill, Pearson marked him for fast promotion.  In less than two years he was justice minister.  His dictum that “the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation” brought him national attention and the admiration of the trendy tone-setters in the academy and the media.

So when Pearson stepped down at the conclusion of Canada’s heady centennial year, Trudeau emerged as the leading, albeit seemingly reluctant, French-Canadian contender for the top spot.  To his credit, he was quite candid about the absurdity of the whole thing.  Announcing his formal entry into the leadership race, he described it as “a huge practical joke on the Liberal Party” for which the enthusiastic media buildup had to take a good deal of responsibility.

Dubbed “Trudeaumania,” the wave of adulation — women fought to kiss him — swept Trudeau to the leadership of the Liberal Party in April 1968, and gave him a solid majority in the subsequent election.  It was an unprecedented emotional binge in the dull history of Canadian politics, as if the unconventional millionaire radical who would appear in sandals and ascot at state functions, slide down banisters, stand on his head at parties or clutch a rose in his teeth personified the people’s dreams and yearning for escape from the drabness of subarctic life in the shadow of the American giant, dreams released by the Expo magic and the patriotic pride of the centennial year.  Canadians clearly wanted someone as colorful and daring as the half-envied, half-resented Americans had had in the youthful John K Kennedy.  “Swinger” Trudeau seemed to fill the bill.  Hints of his Marxist leanings were indignantly brushed off as nasty rumors.  A millionaire socialist?  Nonsense!  But even if he were a leftist radical, so what?  High time to let the Yanks know that anti-Communist paranoia and witchhunting stop at the border.  Questions about his political philosophy were shouted down as McCarthyism, and even direct quotes from Trudeau’s own writings were considered “hate literature”.  Without knowing or wanting to know anything about their instant idol, voters turned the 1968 election into Irudeau’s coronation.

His first move was an attempt to pull Canada out of NATO, which happened to be a long-standing demand of the tiny Canadian Communist Party.  When this threatened to wreck the freshly hijacked liberal Party, Trudeau settled for crippling Canada’s contribution to NATO’s front-line defense in Germany.  He also froze the defense budget, forcing manpower reduction below the minimum necessary for manning collective defense commitments, and making replacement of obsolete or worn-out equipment impossible.  Although some re-equipment was eventually forced on Trudeau in the mid-1970s by the European members of NATO, the extent of the damage can be gleaned from the cancellation of naval exercise MASCOT II last fall for lack of serviceable ships (of Canada’s remaining twenty obsolete destroyers only four were usable).

Trudeau’s antimilitarism is reinforced by his conviction that thanks to detente, which he promotes on Soviet terms come what may, Canada does not need to “waste all that dough” on defense, as he put it in the 1980 election campaign.  For even if detente were to fail completely, to quote his earlier (1968) statement on the subject, “Canada is in the extraordinarily fortunate position of not having to defend itself because we know darn well that the U.S. will defend us.  They won’t let a hostile nation take over Canada to wage war on the United States.”  Many, though not all, Canadians seem to feel the same way and want more, not less, sanctimonious pacifist posturing in the UN and at international conferences.

Relying on Canadians’ traditional lack of interest in external affairs, Trudeau pushed a basic reorientation of foreign policy harder and faster than his domestic changes.  In 1971 he went on a state visit to the Soviet Union and signed an unprecedented cross-alliances Friendship Protocol in the Kremlin — an arrangement under which, as he casually told

a press conference after the 1980 election, the Soviets get top-level Western political intelligence from Ottawa (“If I were to visit the U.S., or something, or see a leader of some other country, I’d inform the Russian ambassador of the discussions”) in exchange for “reciprocal” intelligence from the Soviets.

During that visit Trudeau told his delighted Kremlin hosts that Canada wanted as close relations with the USSR as she had with the U.S. to counter what he called the U.S. threat “to our identity from the cultural, economic, and perhaps even military point of view.” Apart from a few maliciously

Trudeau’s embrace of Fidel
at Cienfuegos came
at the time when Castro’s
legions were conquering
Angola for Moscow

delighted chuckles (there is a streak of Schadenfreude in the negative nationalism which motivates Canadian anti-Americanism), that incredible statement caused no ripples in Canada.  Nor did Trudeau’s preposterous equation of Ukrainian human-rights defenders with FLQ (Quebec “liberation front”) terrorists.  His assertion of close similarity between the Canadian and Soviet federal systems went largely unnoticed, and so did the desire he expressed in Norilsk to emulate Soviet northern-development methods.  (Years later, when prominent Gulag graduate Vladimir Bukovsky visited Ottawa, he recalled the devastating effect Trudeau’s admiration of Soviet achievements had.  “It was awful for us in prison and for everybody in the Soviet Union,” Bukovsky said.  “Everybody knew quite well how many millions of prisoners perished when developing the northern territories.  It was a stab in the back …”)

The gradual shaping of Canada’s foreign policy into the desired “cutting edge of the international Left,” as Trudeau’s advisor Ivan Head put it after the 1974 election, continued through the rechanneling of foreign aid to Third World builders of “new society” socialism (Tanzania becoming a particular favorite), and on to the support of various Marxist “liberation movements.”  Trudeau invented the so-called “third option” — a futile attempt to weaken the Canada-U.S. economic symbiosis by finding substitute markets for two-thirds of the Canadian exports flowing across the border.  He also backed such kindred builders of a “new society” as fellow LSE alumnus Michael Manley, then prime minister of Jamaica, and Fidel Castro.

Trudeau’s embrace of Fidel at Cienfuegos during his 1976 state visit to Cuba, and his “Viva el Comandante Fidel Castro — Viva Cuba!” came at the time when Castro’s legions were conquering Angola for Moscow.  The burst of enthusiasm for the Cuban dictator raised some eyebrows.  TV reporter Peter Desbarats said at a press conference during the trip:  “The picture of yourself and Fidel Castro that we are sending back to Canada will convince many Canadians that you’re leading us toward socialism or worse.  Do you think it’s an issue this visit?”

Trudeau, confident of the average Canadian’s lack of interest in, and ignorance of, world affairs, wasn’t concerned.  “The category of people which would be shocked by that,” he said, “have long since been shocked by my visits to China and to the Soviet Union, so I don’t worry about that.”  His judgment was correct.  In Canada his “Viva Castro” was considered rather cute.  The few critical comments that appeared were chiefly concerned with what was perceived as another outburst of Trudeau’s “anti-Americanism.”

That’s one more illustration of popular misconceptions about the man.  Trudeau is not anti-American in the usual sense.  But he is anti-imperialist in the Marxist definition of the term.  Ever since his student days, when he described himself as a “citizen of the world” and agitated against Canada’s involvement in the “imperialist war” with Nazism, Trudeau has had no use for nationalism of any kind.  But as a shrewd political tactician he will exploit Canada’s anti-Americanism for all it is worth in aid of his “new society” objectives (e.g., “Canadianization” of the oil industry under the National Energy Policy, which economic nationalists see as the pilot project of “nationalization” but which looks more like the beginning of collectivist socialization of the economy).  Since he took office in 1968, Trudeau has systematically aggravated unavoidable irritations in the intimate Canada-U.S. relationship into festering problems.  The damage may not yet have gone very deep but it helps those who seek to vilify and isolate “imperialist” America.  In any case, it’s impossible fully to grasp what makes the man tick and what he is after, without understanding his ideological “anti-imperialism.”

This is one of the problems many Canadians still have after 13 years of Trudeau’s gradual restructuring of the country. The notion of a socialist ideologue transforming sedate Canada through infiltration and capture of the perpetually ruling Liberal Party is simply so outlandish that it cannot actually be happening. Not in fireproof, snugly secure, inviolate Canada!

It is unlikely that Trudeau is equally misunderstood in Moscow, Peking, and Havana.  He must have been considered worth cultivating by the Soviets thirty years ago when he was given special treatment at the 1952 Moscow conference.  Peking must have felt the same way, for not every Western tourist wanting to see China in 1960 managed to get there, let alone have private talks with Chou En-lai and Mao himself.  The Communists* shrewd bet on the young Montreal radical paid off in Trudeau’s recognition of the Peking regime when he became prime minister, and in the exclusion of Taiwanese athletes from the Olympic games in Montreal.  The Kremlin got the shelving of a 1968 report by a Pearson-appointed Royal Commission on Security which pinpointed Communist subversion as the main security threat to Canada; the 1971 Friendship Protocol that Trudeau wouldn’t consider rescinding even after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the mauling of Poland; and above all a happy hunting ground for Soviet-bloc and Cuban agents who have found in Canada a handy base of operations against the United States.  Trudeau’s weakening of the parliamentary system behind its seemingly undisturbed facade and his crippling of Canada’s external and internal defenses complete the picture of the ripening Canadian crisis.  Novelist George Jonas gave it an apt label when, in a flash of dark inspiration, he called it Malice in Squanderland.

It is, malheureusement, more complex and serious than that.  Yet, though increasingly bewildered, even occasionally alarmed, most Canadians still can’t bring themselves to face the evidence that it’s actually happening. □

– 30 –

Mr. Zink, who was born in Czechoslovakia, has heen a po­litical columnist for the Toronto Sun since 1971.  Two of his several books are about Mr. Trudeau.