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Friday, April 07, 2006

It is possible!

To all those who would refuse to consider the candidacy of a Scott Brison or a Bob Rae or a Michael Ignatieff or a Belinda Stronach (well, up until yesterday) on account of their "baggage" from years, statements and parties past, perhaps you should read this from the Globe and Mail. I've copied the text of the article below. To me, the lesson is clear: It is possible for someone to have been a member of another political movement in the past, and yet still make a meaningful contribution to Canadian Liberalism. As the December leadership convention nears, let's be open-minded. Let's make it a point to listen to all the candidates and their ideas. Let's fairly consider what they have to say about moving our party and our country forward. I, for one, am ready to listen.


Trudeau book details his separatist youth
From Friday's Globe and Mail

MONTREAL — Pierre Trudeau always managed to confound and intrigue Canadians, and he's keeping it up even after his death. A new book on the former prime minister reveals that when he was in his 20s, Mr. Trudeau wanted to see the creation of an independent Quebec solely for French Canadians.

The stunning disclosure is part of a book on his formative years until the 1940s that paints a portrait of Mr. Trudeau as a young man that is sharply at odds with his image as the father of multiculturalism and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In the 1930s, Mr. Trudeau appeared to embrace the kind of narrow ethnic nationalism that he later scorned, favouring the creation of an independent Quebec that was French and Catholic.

Mr. Trudeau was still promoting the idea in 1942, when he joined a "secret" revolutionary group plotting to form an ethnic-based country, the book reveals.

The book, written by two Trudeau admirers, Max and Monique Nemni, says he was influenced by the conservative, church-dominated intellectual currents of Quebec in the 1930s and 1940s. It says that despite his lifelong image as a rebel and contrarian, he didn't resist the day's pro-fascist views.

"Mr. Trudeau undoubtedly overcame his past, but we have every reason to believe that he never acknowledged it," the authors write.

People involved in producing the book say Mr. Trudeau's beliefs at that time have been unknown until now, even to his children and friends. The authors had access to his personal papers that became available after his death.

The authors admit to being troubled by their findings, but say they wanted to shed light on a critical period in Mr. Trudeau's intellectual development.

They had discussed their book with him before his death in 2000, and he approved of the idea of an "intellectual biography."

The book, entitled Young Trudeau: 1919-1944, Son of Quebec, Father of Canada, is excerpted in the newsmagazine L'Actualité. Published by Les Éditions de l'Homme, the book is being released in French on Monday; the English version is being published by McClelland & Stewart in June.

The book offers a counterpoint to Mr. Trudeau's image as the federalist bulwark of liberal values who savaged Quebec nationalism and espoused pluralism.

In a school text in 1936, he wrote that he would deploy terrorist-style tactics by detonating enemy munitions plants; in a prescient bit of timing, he said he would return to Montreal in 1976 and lead an army "to declare the independence of Quebec."

In fact, the separatist Parti Québécois would win victory that year.

The book says that a time when nationalist Quebec priest Lionel Groulx was pushing for French Canadians to buy from their own in the 1930s, Mr. Trudeau penned a play while at the Jesuit-run Collège Brébeuf that cast Jewish merchants in a negative light.

In 1942, according to documents in the book, Mr. Trudeau joined a tiny group that published a manifesto calling for a "national revolution."

"The nation that will be reborn from the revolution," the manifesto said, would be Catholic and French.

Those days came back to haunt Mr. Trudeau during a little-known episode when he was prime minister in 1977. One day in the House of Commons, Social Credit MP René Matte asked him if he had ever been part of a "secret movement" favouring Quebec independence, the book says. Mr. Trudeau admitted that he had.

Mr. and Mrs. Nemni wondered why Mr. Trudeau never tried to destroy the documents exposing his adherence to the kind of ideas that he later rejected.

"By destroying them, [Mr. Trudeau] could have erased all traces of this dark past, and the myth would have endured forever," they write. They conclude that Mr. Trudeau "didn't want to cheat history."

Still, they say Mr. Trudeau never came clean on his past.

"While he relentlessly condemned those who fed a closed and separatist form of nationalism, he, on the other hand, repressed in his memory a part of his own past."

They also wondered why no one ever exposed Mr. Trudeau, before concluding that others didn't want an unflattering light shed on them during a disturbing chapter in Quebec's past.
"For a good part of the elite of the time, including Trudeau, collective amnesia was the least painful solution," the book says. "Documents, however, never lose their memory."

Mr. and Mrs. Nemni, both retired university professors, were friends and close associates of Mr. Trudeau. They are working on a second volume of the book.