Brian Mulroney has lashed out at Pierre Trudeau who died seven years ago and is no longer able to answer him. Mulroney calls Trudeau a coward because he opposed overseas conscription in the Second World War (as indeed did many other Canadians) and because he did not volunteer to go overseas. Trudeau served in the Canadian Officers’ Training Corps while he was at university. I am not aware that Mulroney ever put on any kind of uniform.

Mulroney comes very close to calling Trudeau a Nazi sympathizer. He charges that Trudeau was indifferent to Nazi ravages (including the extermination of the Jews) and he opposed enlightened policies designed to wipe out the curse of Nazism. Mulroney bases this charge on the fact that Trudeau supported Jean Drapeau of the Bloc Populaire (a perfectly legal political party) in a by-election in Outremont.

Mulroney concludes by asserting that these positions made Trudeau unfit « for any position of moral leadership in our society. » I suppose this means that Trudeau’s 16 years as prime minister were somehow illegitimate.

Back in the seventies and eighties I knew Brian Mulroney quite well and considered him a friend. But these vicious remarks are beyond the pale. Why didn’t Mulroney make these charges when Trudeau was still alive and could answer him? In fact at the time of Pierre Trudeau’s death Brian Mulroney praised his opponent’s depth of beliefs and the tenacity with which he defended them.

Some commentators are suggesting Mulroney raked up this old history to sell more copies of his biography to be published next week. Maybe. But I think there’s a much deeper reason. Mulroney is interested in money, personal popularity and celebrity friends. Neither he nor his wife, Mila, could understand why Trudeau disdained all these things. (Can you imagine Trudeau on a public stage singing « Danny Boy » with Ronald Reagan?)

Furthermore Trudeau was comfortable and confident within his own skin. At the political level at any rate, Mulroney is neither. So I believe this vitriolic and cowardly attack was fuelled by envy, resentment and anger.

I fully agree with the last line of a Globe and Mail editorial this morning. By his attack on Trudeau « Mr. Mulroney has damaged only himself. »

What do you think?

CTV. 7 pm Sunday « Life and Times of Brian Mulroney »



  1. 1
    Barbara Says:

    I agree totally with the Globe editorial. These are the mean-spirited thrashings of someone who wishes he had the legacy that Trudeau earned. No one has an untainted record, but Trudeau can be respected for all that he did accomplish.

    I am not so sure about your taste in friends, Neil. 😉

  2. 2
    Cate McB Says:

    Mulroney has been sinking his own ship for years and now he’s probably hit bottom. Whether any self-awareness or enlightenment will ever allow him to rise out of his own mire is an open question.

  3. 3
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    I don’t know or care much about what Trudeau may have done as a young man ’cause as young men we all do things that, as « unformed » adults, we can all be ashamed of years later.
    I am curious to know, however, if Mulroney writes anything about the greater but lesser known « scandal » Trudeau was involved in. Trudeau and his pal Jacques Hebert visited Red China in the early ’60s. The visit served as the inspiration for their book « Two innocents in Red China ». In connection to the book and their visit, Kenneth Whyte wrote a scathing expose on Trudeau in the April 1997 edition of « Saturday Night » in which he effectively accused Trudeau of holocaust denial. According to Whyte, the book is essentially a travelogue of Trudeau and Hebert eating their way through China while the greatest holocaust in human history was unfolding before them. The event was Mao’s « Great Leap Forward » in which between 30 and 80 million Chinese peasants starved to death while the grain elevators were full to overflowing. Indeed, despite rumors suggesting what was occuring, Trudeau and Hebert kept blinders on, continued their gluttonous eating spree, and refused to investigate (keep in mind that Trudeau was a respected journalist at that time in his life, a profession that one would assume includes investigating such things).
    I haven’t read Mulroney’s book but indications from the published excerpts are that Mulroney didn’t mention the China episode. Perhaps he should have instead of concentrating on the « Nazi » accusations which occured when Trudeau was young and « unformed » because the China visit impacted very real geo-political issues that Trudeau was involved in as an elected official years later. So, for me, it will be interesting to see if Mulroney touches on this at all.

  4. 4

    Tony – I wonder what Senator Hebert would say about Kenneth Whyte’s version of their China trip. I often run into Jacques Hebert at my local Dairy Queen in Westmount. Maybe I’ll ask him.

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