Justin Trudeau is once again causing a stir in my home and native land. During an interview with Radio Canada (the French language service of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) on Sunday, Trudeau made some sympathetic remarks about Quebec independence. He said:
I always say that if ever I believed in Canada was really Stephen Harper’s Canada – that we were heading against abortion, against gay marriage, that we were going backwards 10,000 different ways – maybe I would think about wanting to make Quebec a country.
Never in my wildest dreams did I entertain the thought the phrase “maybe I would think about wanting to make Quebec a country” would ever cross the lips of the someone named Trudeau. When his father Pierre Trudeau was Prime Minister fought the idea of Quebec separatism tooth and nail and his rivalry with Rene Levesque, Quebec’s first separatist Premier, was legendary. Even after he left office, Trudeau dismissed the idea that Quebec needed to be bestowed with special powers as demonstrated in this 1987 interview on the CBC with the late Barbara Frum (yes, she was David Frum’s mother) following the introduction of the Meech Lake Accord.
Suffice it to say, the younger Trudeau had to explain himself. Yesterday, outside the House of Commons, Trudeau said, “I live this country in my bones, every breath I take and I’m not going to stand here and somehow defend that I actually do love Canada because we know I love Canada.” However, when that response proved unsatisfactory to the media scrum, he angrily stormed off.
However, later he seemed once again open to Quebec independence when he told a reporter, “If Quebecers get it and, honestly, Canadians start to not get it, I start to see their point about not recognizing Canada under Stephen Harper.”
I think the comment of Mario Dumont, former leader of Quebec’s now defunct conservative Action démocratique du Quebec (ADQ), is apt here. Dumont said, “It’s like it’s more important for him to be on the left than to be Canadian.” He also went to say these comments could damage Trudeau’s ambitions to follow in his father’s footsteps to become Liberal Party leader and Prime Minister.
Even if Trudeau does eventually become leader of the Liberals, as long as he maintains this hot headed disposition, I think Canadians will stay with Stephen Harper and the Conservatives. And if Justin Trudeau doesn’t like it then he can always quit federal politics, join the Parti Quebecois and set his sights on being Premier of Quebec.