Update – Nov 23, 2012 1:02 pm: Justine Trudeau says he’s sorry about comments he made—as related below—according to The Canadian Press. He says, however, that he was using “shorthand” to criticize PM Stephen Harper, not to criticize the people of Alberta. Some apology, some leader.
By their own words will you know them. Another prominent Liberal party caucus member let the veil slip momentarily to show his real nature and belief system—in particular, his anti-Alberta bias.
On Wednesday, I wrote about David McGuinty’s message to Canadians that Alberta MPs who favoured the energy sector should not serve in Ottawa.
This time around, it is a video from a 2010 French-language TV interview that shows front-running Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau saying Canada is struggling because Albertans control the social agenda, and that the country would be better served with more Quebecers in power.
The Dauphin of Quebec told his interviewer, “Canada isn’t doing well right now because it’s Albertans who control our community and socio-democratic agenda. It doesn’t work.”
And here’s the best part, as reported by the National Post:
Asked if Canada is better served when there are more Quebecers in power than when there are more Albertans in power, Mr. Trudeau replied: ‘I’m a Liberal so of course I believe that.’
“He went on to add: ‘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’.”
It’s quite incredible that a person who seems likely to lead the Liberal party within the next six months should hold such a bigoted view of Canada outside Quebec. Canada belongs to us, he said, meaning Liberals from Quebec. And that is not taken out of context or from some old tapes of a college debate. His words come from an interview with Tele-Quebec that was shot in the last couple of years.
The initial statement issued by Trudeau’s campaign team tried shifting blame to guess who: the Conservatives, of course. It read in part:
[The Conservatives] are clearly concerned that they are losing the byelection in Calgary Centre and are resorting to smear campaigns to stop their slide.
“Justin knows that Calgary, Alberta and all of western Canada are at the very heart of Canada’s future. That’s a message he has taken to every part of the country, from the beginning of the campaign. We need to get beyond the divisive politics of the Conservatives and include all Canadians.”
Readers can judge for themselves who is being divisive: Trudeau or the Conservative party.
A by-product of this recent disclosure will be a test of how serious the other Liberal leadership candidates are: are they really in the race to win, or are they there to higher their profiles and gain plumb roles in the Dauphin’s future shadow cabinet—once he’s been coronated, of course? My guess is most are there for the latter reason. And, in any event, they probably share Trudeau’s view of the Liberals’ superiority and aren’t likely to use their leader-in-waiting’s words against him.
Those who are serious about winning the leadership will use Trudeau’s “gift” to slow him down, at least, in his race for the crown.
So how much Trudeau’s words will hurt his candidacy for leadership of his party is an open question. It’ll hurt, I believe, if others in the Liberal party step up and refute his stated opinions. The Grits have officially backed off from David McGuinty’s words and made him apologize for saying them—McGuinty has also (probably under pressure) resigned his critic’s role in the party’s caucus.
If Liberal leaders don’t publicly rebuke Trudeau as well, then chances are, although not as far ahead as before, he’ll still be in the front of the pack—at least, until his next self-inflicted shot in the foot.