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”