Friday, October 1, 2010

Why Chantel Hebert Has it Dead Wrong

Chantel Hebert should be worried. Or not.

The old Reformer Lorne Gunter is singing her praises in the National Post, but since she's been steadily moving toward the right, maybe this is a good thing for her. But for progressive Canadians it just means that another one has bitten the dust.

And not just for her right-leaning column, but for one of the poorest researched articles to grace the pages of a national newspaper in years.

Who will save Trudeau's legacy? She asks, citing the demise of many provincial Liberal governments as setting the tone for federal politics.

What she fails to comprehend is that Pierre Trudeau's legacy was not Liberal, but Canadian. He carved out a "just society" through consensus building and a profound desire that Canada be the best that it could be. A progressive and sovereign nation, that would play by it's own rules.

In that way he invoked Sir John A. MacDonald, Louis St. Laurent and John Diefenbaker, among others. All strong nationalists.

Trudeau could be tough when he needed to be, but that toughness was on the side of what was right for this country.

And besides the fact that Hebert paints Jean Charest, former leader of the federal PC party as a Liberal, the rest of her piece is pure nonsense.

When Pierre Trudeau was in power he had few provincial allies.

Newfoundland: Though briefly under Liberal Joey Smallwood, the premiers when Trudeau was PM were Frank Moores and Brian Peckford, both Progressive Conservative.

New Brunswick: Richard Hatfield, PC, throughout.

Nova Scotia: Initially Liberal Gerald Reagan but for the most part under PC John Buchanan

Prince Edward Island: Alex Campbell, W.B. Campbell and Angus MaLean, all PC.

Alberta: Ernest Manning and Harry Strom, Social Credit. Peter Lougheed PC

Manitoba: Ed Schreyer and Howard Pawley, NDP. Sterling Lyon PC.

Saskatchewan: Allan Blakeney NDP. Grant Devine* (Neoconservative)

British Columbia: William Bennett and William Jr. both Social Credit. David Barrett NDP.

Ontario: John Robarts and William Davis, both PC

Quebec: Jean-Jacques Bertrand, Union Nationale, Robert Bourassa Liberal and Rene Levesque Parti-Quebecois

And with the exception of Jimmy Carter, the US presidents throughout Trudeau's tenure were Republican, including two from the ultra-right: Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

Pierre Trudeau represented progress, and not because of provincial allies or allies south of the border, but in spite of the fact that he constantly met with opposition.

But it was a different Canada then. And it was different media then.

And yes the Bloc is now dominant in Quebec, but I like the Bloc, and in fact they are far more representative of Canadian values than Stephen Harper.

However, today, the only ones capable of saving Trudeau's legacy is us.

But it won't simply be Trudeau's legacy we'll be saving, but also the legacy of Tommy Douglas, Ed Broadbent, John Diefenbaker, Lester Pearson, Louis St. Laurent, and all the other great Canadian politicians who acted on the will of the people. The Canadian people.

Because if we can't do it, heaven help us.


*Suggested reading: Privatizing a Province: The New Right in Saskatchewan, By: James M. Pitsula and Ken Rasmussen, New Star Books, 1990, ISBN: 0-921586-10-8


  1. Okay, Emily, tell me why this list of names made me cry: "Tommy Douglas, Ed Broadbent, John Diefenbaker, Lester Pearson, Louis St. Laurent, and all the other great Canadian politicians."
    Because we'll never see their like again.
    Or Pierre Trudeau's. I admire and am grateful for what he did for Canada, although I was never one of those screamy-Mimi types who oohed and ahhed over him as if he were Elvis!!
    You're absolutely right. What Trudeau did, he did for Canada, not for a single political party and NOT for his own gain. He knew a politician is to serve the people, not to serve himself and his cronies.
    That list? And why it made me cry? Because they were great Canadians, who put our country and its people ahead of everything else.

  2. Agreed, Kay. As for Chantal, I don't really have a problem with her, as she seems to be the most vocal Harper hater on The National panel and has had some pretty sound political predictions and input. I will, however keep a closer eye on her.

  3. It's interesting your article mentions Pearson and Diefenbaker, I remember max Ferguson on CBC radio doing political impersonations of them fighting in the House. Also did you know that Rich Little auditioned to be the voice of two cartoon characters using Pearson and Dief's voices, he was rejected because the voices were to unbelievable.

  4. The battles between Diefenbaker and Pearson were legendary. But they got things done. I wasn't aware that Rich Little had been approached to do their voices.

    My dad used to do a pretty good impersonation of Diefenbaker .... not unlike the one he did of Richard Nixon.

    Brings back a lot of good memories.