Conveniently timed to coincide with next week’s by-election in Calgary Center (where the Liberals were making noise about fighting a competitive race), Justin Trudeau, the presumptive heir apparent of the federal Liberals, is under siege for disparaging comments he made two years ago about Albertans. In a 2010 interview with French-language interviewer Patrick Lagace, on a Tele-Quebec show called Les francs-tireurs, Trudeau said:
“Canada isn’t doing well right now because it’s Albertans who control our community and socio-democratic agenda. It doesn’t work,”
When Lagace asked whether Trudeau believed Canada was better off “when there are more Quebecers in charge than Albertans,” Trudeau replied:
“I’m a Liberal, so of course I think so, yes. Certainly when we look at the great prime ministers of the 20th century, those that really stood the test of time, they were MPs from Quebec … This country — Canada — it belongs to us.”
Talk about a parochial world view! This is the sort of thing you might expect to hear from some regional hick, not the future leader of a national political party. (and, I suppose, if these sort of stories keep emerging, either Trudeau won’t be the future leader of the Liberals or, if he is, they won’t be a national political party). On their face, Trudeau’s comments demonstrate everything that Canadians loath about the Liberal party: the arrogance, the casual contempt for people they disagree with, the dismissal of western Canadians.
It also demonstrates a shocking lack of sophistication on the part of Justin Trudeau and his Liberal handlers – guys, you know this isn’t the 19th century, right? In the internet era, the old game of saying one thing in French and something else in English doesn’t work anymore. Did it not occur to you that the Conservatives might get their hands on this tape? If nothing else, the rank stupidity and poor judgement demonstrated by those comments illustrate the risks for the Liberals of electing Justin Trudeau as their leader (and why the Tories are licking their chops at that prospect).
Now, Liberals are trying to argue that the quotes are taken out of context. The context being, I suppose, that when Trudeau gave that interview, he wasn’t running for leader of his party, and couldn’t know that in the spring of 2011, the Liberal party would be forced to the brink of extermination. Had he known that, in 2012, he’d be fighting for his party’s survival, he might have chosen his words more carefully. Not, that that’s a particularly compelling defense.
In any event, does anyone believe that Trudeau’s words don’t reflect both his attitudes, and the attitudes of the Liberal Party, towards Canada – that it “belongs to [them]”? Or that they reflect his attitude, and the attitude of the Liberal party for 40+ years, towards Albertans , that they are, somehow, un-Canadian and their aspirations illegitimate? Until the Liberals come to grips with the sense of entitlement and the contempt for Western Canadians demonstrated by Trudeau’s comments, they’re rightly doomed for electoral oblivion.