Friday, September 07, 2007

Brian Mulroney is a small person

Given his comments about Pierre Trudeau, I guess Brian Mulroney is still rather jealous of his glamorous predecessor. There are many legitimate criticisms one can make of Trudeau, but chiding him for not opposing the Nazi Holocaust at a time when the vast majority of North Americans had no idea that the death camps even existed is disingenuous and slanderous.

Trudeau, like many young Roman Catholics of his generation, was too admiring of Catholic dictators such as Franco and Mussolini. He, like many Quebeckers (including, I am willing to bet, some of Mulroney's family), did oppose conscription during the Second World War. He did not, however, know about the Holocaust until the end of the war. Many North Americans did little or nothing to help stop the well-known persecution of Jews under the Nazis, but those people, despite their apathy, were not aware of the extent of the Nazis crimes until after the war.

Trudeau exhibited the anti-Semitism typical of his generation and his cultural milieu. Again, I daresay the Mulroney family was not immune to these same prejudices. Was Trudeau wrong about this? Of course he was. He managed, however, to overcome his prejudices as he matured. That is the mark of a responsible human being.

Trudeau's legacy is mixed, but I believe his accomplishments (e.g., the official languages act, the patriation of the constitution, the Charter of Rights, etc.) were substantial. He did not resolve the issue of Quebec separatism, but neither did Mulroney. What is Mulroney's legacy? NAFTA and the Bloc Québecois?

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