October 8, 2000 $576 billion national debt is Trudeau's real legacy
By ERIC MARGOLIS
Contributing Foreign Editor
Speak not ill of the dead." Alas, sometimes we must. As now, when we watch the memory of Pierre
Trudeau, who died last week, being cynically manipulated, grossly distorted, and cloyingly sentimentalized by
his Liberal party heirs to win votes in upcoming elections. Trudeau's sainted ghost is to be used like the
corpse of the Spanish hero, El Cid, strapped onto a horse and sent into battle.
Most Canadians have been brainwashed into believing the charming, charismatic Trudeau was a great prime
minister who built a strong, prosperous, humane Canada. This fable was charmingly echoed by the
increasingly leftist Globe and Mail, in one of many weepy hagiographic tributes to St. Pierre: "PM Jean Chretien considers
himself the main defender of Mr. Trudeau's liberal vision of a just and compassionate Canada."
Let me precisely quantify the costs of Trudeau's "just and compassionate Canada:"
* In 1968, when Trudeau went from rich, socialist professor to prime minister, Canada's national debt was a modest $11.3
billion; the federal deficit was zero. When Trudeau left office in 1984, the debt had mushroomed to $128 billion; the deficit
to $25 billion annually. But this was just the beginning.
* Canada's Great Helmsman created a vast bureaucracy, and massive welfare programs to buy votes for his Liberal party.
He restricted trade and free markets, imposing confiscatory taxes. Trudeau drove Canada so far left that today's opposition
Canadian Alliance - a moderate centrist party by world standards - is routinely termed "right wing" or "far right."
When Trudeau entered office, Ottawa spent 30% of Canada's total economic output (the same as the U.S.). When he left,
government spending had skyrocketed to almost 53%. With half of Canadians working directly or indirectly for Ottawa,
the nation became infected with state-sponsored laziness.
Government is supposed to serve taxpayers. But under Trudeau and his successors, it was Canadians who laboured to
serve an increasingly disdainful, autocratic government. Canadians were gulled into believing that when Ottawa taxed them
$10, and gave back $2, they were getting "benefits" and "social services."
Many adored Trudeau - but I'd also be adored if I had a hundred billion of borrowed taxpayers' dollars to give away.
* In 1970, the U.S., Switzerland and Canada were the world's three richest nations. Canada's robust dollar traded around
US$1.06. Today, thanks to Trudeau's socialism, and Brian Mulroney's failure to uproot it, the dollar has sunk to a pathetic,
Little wonder foreign investment, the lifeblood of Canada's growth, dried up. Most Canadians didn't understand their assets
had depreciated, in real value, by 33%. By relentlessly devaluing the dollar, Ottawa literally stole people's savings.
* After Trudeau retired, his unstoppable socialist juggernaut picked up speed. Canada's federal debt - the amount Ottawa
borrowed in the past that remains unpaid - has skyrocketed to $576 billion, or $54,000 per taxpayer.
A third of your federal taxes go to paying interest on this debt - just like on a credit card with an unpaid balance. In 1999
alone, Canadians paid $41.5 billion on debt interest, four times what Ottawa spent on defence.
Add $2.3 trillion of unfunded pension liabilities, and the figure rises to a staggering $244,000 owed per taxpayer. Canada's
"just and compassionate" society is built on a mountain of debt, passed on to future generations.
* In 1970, Canada had one of the lowest debts - and lowest tax rates - among industrial nations. Today, Canada ranks as
one of three leading debtor nations, along with socialist-run Belgium and Italy. While Ottawa's annual deficit was ended by
imposing crushing taxes, the monster debt hangover remains. The U.S. is projected to pay off its entire national debt by
2012. At Ottawa's puny repayment rate, it will take Canada 288 more years.
* Behind the charade of peacekeeping, Trudeau destroyed Canada's once powerful armed forces, leaving the nation a
helpless military eunuch with virtually no international influence, totally dependent on the U.S. for national defence.
* The crown jewel of Canadian socialism, state-run medicine, is a mess. The U.S. spends 13.5% of its national income on
health; Canada spends 9.5%. Unemployment in Canada has run 3.5 to 5 points higher than in the U.S. Canada's smartest,
most entrepreneurial people are fleeing south. Canada has become an economic, intellectual and cultural backwater -
bureaucratic Ottawa, writ large.
* Trudeau was ardently anti-American. He despised the free market, tried to transform Canada into another socialist
Sweden, and fawned on Marxist dictators like Mao, Nyere and Castro.
Thirty years ago, Canada was rich, powerful and respected. Three decades of bullying, Trudeau-style socialism and its
aftermath undermined Canada's economy, the core of a nation's strength, and encouraged separatism in Quebec.
The immense historic economic damage inflicted by Trudeau and his successors on Canada may have fatally weakened this
once robust nation to the point where joining the U.S. becomes inevitable. This prospect, trillions in debt, and a 66c
Canadian rupee are Trudeau's real legacy.
Your great grandchildren will still be paying for Pierre Trudeau's "just and compassionate society."
Eric can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
Letters to the editor should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 8, 2000 Still seduced by Trudeau's magnetism
By PETER WORTHINGTON -- Toronto Sun
I intended to write today about the disputed elections in Yugoslavia but
even the revolution under way in Belgrade must play second fiddle to the
curious hysteria and suspension of judgment rampant over the death of
Princess Diana-like rhetoric and mythology emerging from the funeral has,
temporarily, forced postponement of Serbia's plight.
Commentators and others seemed to lose all sense of perspective and rationality about
Trudeau. Something akin to national hysteria manifested itself at his death - perhaps
subliminal realization that today we have no leader approaching his calibre.
That doesn't mean Trudeau was good for Canada, just that he was effective. Trudeau was
all style, flair, charisma. What he advocated and imposed on Canada was mostly wrong,
but we, the nation (and the world) were seduced by his magnetism.
Ironically, Jean Chretien, a lesser man, probably said it best when he called Trudeau "a
man like no other ... brilliance and learning ... grace and style... wit and playfulness ... a
giant of our time and a great Canadian." All true, but at the same time his agenda was bad
for Canada. The damage lingers.
Maybe it's churlish at this time of national grieving to say what should be obvious - what
used to be obvious when he was at the height of power saying "Just watch me!" It'd be
easier to maintain silence, or join the orgasmic grieving of the type seen at Princess Diana's
untimely death. (Those now suggesting that as a result of his eulogy, Justin is a possible
future PM (!) is almost as embarrassing as advocating sainthood for Diana after her death -
a wanton whose self-indulgence hurt those around her and whose self-discipline was
There's been an outpouring of inflated, fatuous nonsense about Trudeau from many who
should know better. Even Christie Blatchford, as fine a reporter as there is in Canada,
turned into a sob sister at PET's funeral and waxed ecstatic over Justin's awesome eulogy
to his father.
Frankly, I thought Justin's eulogy smacked of "performance" as well as genuine grief - a
staged, calculated, neo-political speech. I'm not suggesting his grief wasn't real, but Justin,
a drama teacher, is his father's son - and father was a consummate actor, ham, show-off,
Maybe "performing" was the only way Justin could handle the emotional trauma.
Pirouetting behind the Queen's back, which won Trudeau headlines, is hardly the stuff of
statesmanship, yet even Justin identified "pirouette" as a quality of his father.
Foolish commentators stressed Trudeau's deep and abiding Catholicism. Surely an
overstatement. Does the Catholic creed condone 71-year-old men becoming unwed
fathers? Is taking financial responsibility for an out-of-wedlock daughter evidence of
character and responsibility, as some insisted, or is it simply the proper thing to do?
Much was made of Trudeau's love of freedom and equality. In truth, he cared not a whit
for the freedom of people in China, Cuba, the Soviet Union; all his life he nursed emotional
and ideological rapport with communist dictators.
While visiting the USSR he saw similarities between Soviet republics and Canadian
provinces - an obscene comparison at the time. As a young man, this "great Canadian,"
chose to duck World War II which he called "an imperialistic war." Less intellectual young
Canadians answered their country's call, and died for its freedom.
Trudeau's bilingualism divided Canada - an issue still not resolved, as unity eludes us and
He sought to destroy the military, yet routinely shed tears at the Cenotaph on Nov. 11 for
the fallen in the war he scorned.
Although he called himself an economist, his policies led to rampant inflation,
unemployment and a national debt that will haunt our grandkids. Trudeau alienated the
West and much of Quebec - not an easy achievement.
CARTER AND CASTRO
That the two top-ranking world figures at his funeral were Fidel Castro and Jimmy Carter
is appropriate. Castro, longest-surviving tyrant in the Western Hemisphere, whose country
will remain in bondage until it's his turn for a state funeral, was admired by Trudeau.
Carter's niche in history is as one of the worst presidents ever to occupy the White House.
Had Carter won the 1980 U.S. election, the Soviet Union would not only have survived,
but would likely be stronger than ever. Carter was another well-intentioned, high IQ
intellectual whose policies were disastrous.
Trudeau's greatest moment as PM was implementing the War Measures Act in 1970. That
single gesture ended the FLQ crisis in Quebec that had paralyzed the nation, and for which
we owe him lasting gratitude.
As Chretien implied, we are unlikely to see his like again. A remarkable individual, a
remarkable Canadian, but as with many intellectuals in power, he was dogmatic, arrogant
Justin may think his father never attacked individuals and practiced "simple tolerance," but
this is more mythology. Trudeau raised personal attacks to an art form, and his "tolerance"
led to prosecuting perceived ideological foes.
As Justin noted at the end of his eulogy, Trudeau is gone, and won't be coming back. True,
but the damage he inflicted will live long after him, even if those who worship him, as
Princess Diana was worshipped in death, don't see it.