David Frum on disastrous legacy of Liberal PM Pierre Trudeau

David Frum participated in a forum yesterday at the Royal Ontario Museum where he debated on the topic: “Pierre Trudeau was a disaster for Canada.” As Frum implies in his introduction, all too often people only remember the former Liberal Prime Minister’s singular role in the implementation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Well, in spite of the selective memory of some Liberals, the rest of Trudeau’s legacy was disastrous, particularly as it related to Canada’s deficits and accumulated debt, with the former all too often blamed on former PM Brian Mulroney

Frum starts here:

Under the strict rules of debate, my opponent Professor English can win if he proves that Trudeau was something less than a disaster for Canada: a disappointment or even a misfortune perhaps. I hope you will hold him – and Trudeau – and Canada to a higher standard. I hope you will require him to prove that Pierre Trudeau was affirmatively a good thing for Canada, a successful prime minister.

A few years ago, I took my children to visit battlefields of the First World War. All bloomed peaceful and benign in the summer sunshine. You’d never know that a century before, human beings had crouched in terror in these trenches, that here bullets had shattered human heads, doctors had amputated human limbs, bomb blasts had buried human beings alive, and that rats had feasted on human bodies.

When we look back on the past from a distance, everything fades and blurs. It was all so long ago. The dead would be dead by now anyway. Wasn’t the situation really very complicated? We are here and warm and comfortable. No point wasting time in futile regrets. Off we wander to view the next sight.

But if we are to understand history, we have to understand it as it was lived.

Canada today is a very successful country. It has suffered less from the global economic crisis than any other major economy.

So Canadians may be tempted to be philosophical about disasters in their own past. Hasn’t all come out right in the end? Of course you could say the same about the invasions of Ghengis Khan.

I don’t draw any personal comparison between Pierre Trudeau and Ghengis Khan, obviously. But I want to stress: Canada’s achievement overcoming Trudeau’s disastrous legacy should not inure Canadians to how disastrous that legacy was.

Three subsequent important prime ministers – Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien and Stephen Harper – invested their energies cleaning up the wreckage left by Pierre Trudeau. The work has taken almost 30 years. Finally and at long last, nobody speculates any more about Canada defaulting on its debt, or splitting apart, or being isolated from all its major allies.

Yet through most of the adult lives of most people in this room, people in Canada and outside Canada did worry about those things.

And as you enjoy the peace, stability and comparative prosperity of Canada in the 2010s just consider – this is how Canadians felt in the middle 1960s. Now imagine a political leader coming along and out of ignorance and arrogance despoiling all this success. Not because the leader faced some overwhelming crisis where it was hard to see the right answer. But utterly unnecessarily. Out of a clear blue sky. Like a malicious child on the beach stomping on the sand castle somebody else had worked all morning to build.

That was the political record of Pierre Trudeau.”

The rest of the Frum article is here.  

H/T Jack’s Newswatch.

4 thoughts on “David Frum on disastrous legacy of Liberal PM Pierre Trudeau

  1. It’s not often you hear the truth with regards to the disaster that was Pierre Trudeau, and the legacy of destruction and history denial that he left behind. I am too young to have voted for or against Trudeau, but I’m well aware of his disastrous reign. It’s tragic that such a great country like Canada was hoodwinked by such an extremist like Trudeau. History will not look kindly on his divisive reign.

    [Edited by blog administrator.]


  2. Sean M. — I appreciate your commenting. But I had to remove a sentence. I have to be careful what I allow someone to say about someone else in a comment, whether the person they are talking about is dead or alive.


  3. No worries Sandy, I completely understand. Thank you for allowing me to post, and for all your hard work. You’re site is very much appreciated and informative. I apologize for sometimes using over heated rhetoric, Trudeau and his reign of error has that effect on me.


  4. The overriding irony in the article is that David Frum was a disaster for the United States. Maybe he served as revenge for acid rain but I really have wonder if our nearest and dearest neighbour really deserved what this clown inflicted upon them…”axis of evil”…Maybe he meant to say axis of weavels since that would have made a lot more sense.


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