Wednesday, April 03, 2013
Two weeks ago Justin Trudeau was asked whether he could really defeat Stephen Harper, his response was, "Just watch me."
The phrase was of course first his father's. Pierre Elliot Trudeau had made the remark in answering a question of how far he'd go in reducing civil liberties during the October Crisis of 1970.
The problem with Justin Trudeau making such a quotation is that it references one of the most controversial decisions ever made by a Prime Minister. With two Quebec cabinet ministers kidnapped, Pierre Elliot Trudeau enacted the Wartime Measures Act, the one and only instance the drastic emergency legislation has ever been imposed in peace time.
Not only were armed soldiers patrolling the streets, but police were given vast powers including the ability to ban political literature and lock up Canadians without laying any charges.
The irony of Justin Trudeau referencing the only time a Prime Minister has ever put armed soldiers on the street is made painfully clear when one recalls that it was just in 2006 the Liberal Party ran an infamous ad (See below) that alleged Stephen Harper was about to do the exact same thing.
Seven years ago, it was thought, to justify the sensationalistic Liberal attack ad against Harper and his supposed police state, the Grits had accepted, with important hindsight, that the senior Trudeau shouldn't have taken the extreme measure of rolling out the army in regards to a simple police matter.
Yet if that was true, it is more than baffling why any Liberal would be proud of Justin Trudeau's note that paid homage to his father's worst mistake.
Or if it wasn't, and some rare Liberals think locking up over 400 artists, union members, and civic leaders for days without charges was a good decision and that armed soldiers needed to be patrolling towns (though the RCMP would, and did, disagree) then the 2006 ad about Harper was never meant to be an attack, but a compliment, meant to show how Stephen was like Pierre. But of course it wasn't a compliment. The Liberal Party believed such a drastic measure was wrong, they were right to do so even if their messaging was an incredible blunder.
There is no denying that Pierre Elliot Trudeau was one of this country's greatest Prime Ministers, but he did make mistakes. His son would be wise to learn from them, not take pride in them.