02.21.2012 01:21 AM

In today’s Sun: father, not like son

My father would have been 80 last week, so that got me to thinking about Justin Trudeau.

Let me explain. When my dad was dying eight years ago — felled, too soon and too fast, by lung cancer — Justin got in touch with me. I was drowning in grief in those dark days and Justin gave me some advice that I relied upon, and which helped me get through my father’s death.

Tell him the things you never said to him before, Justin said. Be with him as much as you can, and just be his son, he said. So I did those things. It helped.

Justin and I were friendly in those days, but not close friends. In the intervening years, we have lost touch. He has become an MP, and I’ve become a critic of (and perhaps part of) the Liberal Party’s ongoing existential crisis. So we don’t communicate much anymore.

But, like everyone else, I pay attention to what Justin is doing. 


  1. Jan says:

    Oh, this won’t attract Trudeau bashers, hell no.

  2. Michael says:

    I was a youngster when PET was PM, too young to vote, but still admired what he did repatriating the constitution and enshrining the Charter.

    But I wonder, would Justin garner any attention if his last name was Sinclair?

  3. Marc L says:

    The only thing going for Justin is his name. If he was named Justin Tremblay, he would be a nobody, and would probably not be in politics.

    • Philip says:

      Kind of like Peter MacKay then?

      • Marc L says:

        Could be. Although I doubt Peter Mackay was considered leadership material just because he had the right name. Hmmm….not clear why he was considered leadership material though.

      • sharonapple88 says:

        Could add a few more names….

        Preston Manning, son of Ernest Manning, premier of Alberta.

        Stephen Lewis, son of David Lewis (NDP leader).

        Colin Thatcher son of Wilbert Ross Thatcher (Sask premier).

        Mike Layton son of Jack.

        It’s odd how many children of politicians end up running for office.

        • Cynical says:

          A couple of those names outshine their parents: Manning, Lewis and Thatcher, IMHO.

          Being not-your-father is not always a bad thing.

        • sharonapple88 says:

          Add a few more names.

          Jack Layton was the son of a PC cabinet minister Robert Layton.

          Dalton and David McGuinty, son of MPP Dalton McGuinty.

  4. pomojen says:

    As usual, I almost couldn’t stand it, but I looked at the comments section for about 15 seconds. My brain is still hurting.

    People who hate PET really, really hate him. And his son by extension. It’s a little scary….. a fetish for some people. And when something is made a fetish, you start to see some truly fascinating thinking and behaviour.

    In any case. Justin is no more his father than any of us are our parents. And I think he’s either really brave, really narcissistic or really driven by the imagined expectations of his father… or…. Well, it’s an interesting case study. And in any case, maybe we need to stop looking for the next PET so that we can find what we really need right now, which may or may not be Justin Trudeau. I think it’s possible that Justin will rise to the leadership one day, maybe win an election. And it’s just as possible that this happens DESPITE his heritage and because of ideas and attitudes that his father would not have embraced. And it’s also possible that he goes back to teaching. You never know what can happen.

    I am a fan of PET. I feel grateful for his contributions to this nation. But I am not unaware of his flaws or the rifts in the country that could have perhaps been avoided etc etc….. He was complex, as is our country.

  5. AP says:

    Justin is more Margaret than Pierre

  6. dave says:

    Watching Justin T do his job as MP sometimes reminds me more of the way that Svend Robinson did the job, more of an action oriented way of bringing our attention to issues and problems. He does not remind me of the way his Father did the job at all. He does things, and then is articulate in explaining the issue that he is addressing – articulate and passionate.

  7. Mike says:

    Fathers stand as giants on all our paths…I can’t imagine what Justin felt growing up with a true giant on his path.

  8. GPAlta says:

    I think it is important to remember that this column is a critique of the liberal party, not of Justin.

    There is nothing wrong with not being your father. I believe that most sons are actually more extraordinary than their fathers. That’s how progress works.

    Justin may not be a politician and he may not be a leader, but he should absolutely expect to be greater than his father someday in his own way, just as we should all strive to become greater than our fathers. It is our duty to our children and our communities to do so. Anything less is to decide that our children will not have the opportunities that we ourselves had, and would ultimately show that our fathers were not so great after all, in that they failed to raise sons who might help the community progress.

  9. Bil Huk says:

    my opinion of Trudeau aside, let’s just call it the way it is.

    if this guy’s last name was different, we’d all be talking about what a whack-job he is (that is if you’re willing to call someone a whack job regardless of political affiliation. Increasingly, the only whack jobs any of us see are the ones that aren’t on “our side”)

    WK was as gentle as you can be in that piece.

  10. Jim Hanna says:

    Warren has a point, as do Craig and AP – and remember, James Sinclair, a BC MP, was his grandfather. He’s got his DNA as well as his Dad’s.

    I think Justin is aware of the expectation placed on him, and he’s taking the hard road more than once. We’ll see what he does during the leadership.

  11. Dan says:

    I think Trudeau is a decent guy. But as a leadership candidate, I see two huge problems.

    The first is that his dad blazed through the party as an outsider on a mission. Justin was recruited to the party as the heir apparent.

    What follows from that is that Justin Trudeau carries with him the baggage of the old Liberal party. Careerists who see him as a vehicle or spokesman for their ideas. I’m not even saying Justin is an airhead with no ideas of his own. Only that the tail is desperate to wag the dog here, whereas Pierre was unmistakeably driving his vision for a “Just Society”.

    The last thing is that I don’t think Canadians like dynasties. They want to feel like their leader came out of the street they grew up on, not a smoke-filled law firm in Toronto or Montreal or Ottawa. For a party that’s been accused of entitlement, Liberals would be cautious to avoid another leader who could be perceived as “anointed”.

    Are you guys still doing that open primary thing?

    • Jim Hanna says:

      Yes, the open primary was passed at the last convention. The next leader can be chosen by anyone willing to say they aren’t a member of another party, will be accountable to no one but himself, and the party also gave him the power to appoint his own candidates, and override any policy decided by the members. Awesome.

  12. J.A. says:

    These are all interesting comments. we are each more than the sum of our parts, methinks, for better and for worse! thanks to Warren for his memories of young Justin’s words of solace.

  13. Mike says:

    Justin is clearly walking his own path. I think he is young enough to resonate with young voters, connected enough to pull in the establishment, and his name obviously carries recognition value….but I know nothing of him as a person. Would he make a leader of the liberal party for 2015? I’d trust WK’s opinion on his chances. If Dalton isn’t interested, and I don’t think he is, who else do they have to challenge Bob Rae? Whatever happened to Gerrard Kennedy?

    • Bill says:

      Dalton is dead in Ontario and therefore will never be a federal politician. If the Drummond report came out before the election the result would have been different.

      I think you guy’s have the Trudeua thing all wrong. A greater number of people disliked Pierre, especially after his political career was over. The Trudeau name will not take you anywhere but 2nd or 3rd place at best. The Trudeua name is not a benefit, it is a liability.

      • Mike Foulds says:

        For some people I am sure you would be right Bill. But not everyone feels that way. I think Trudeau may have been our finest prime minister.
        Dalton is not dead. He’s premier. The flaws in the Drummond report are many. As long as hudak is running the Tories I can’t see them winning because he does nothing to inspire the fence sitters.

        • Bill says:

          I think most Ontario voters would be quite frightened of a Federal Dalton. He has really screwed up and people are finally starting to notice.
          Dalton is done like dinner when this term is complete (maybe before…..).

  14. DannyBoy says:

    In October 1970 I was one of the Dawson College football team evicted from the old Armoury building beside Westmount High School by soldiers waving machine guns and dressed in combat gear. A few weeks later I would be the weekend watchman on a construction site at Dorval Airport as Cross’s airplane loaded the FLQ kidnappers on to their Cuban bound flights and the Cross plane taxied to the end of the runway and departed as CJAD gave breathless radio reports from the old observation deck. Trudeau lost me forever on that day. he reminded me of George Wallace ranting about outsiders “coming in and telling us what to do” just the way Trudeau was so disparaging about “weak kneed people”………….I’ve been a Dipper since 1975 in Ontario

    • Lawrence Stuart says:

      I missed this post.

      It’s very true. Trudeau was a complicated figure. I suppose the hauteur that allowed him to accomplish so much was also his undoing. The invocation of the War Measures Act ran counter to the grain of his concern with individual rights. And it was, as you imply, a shameful episode.

  15. mauser98 says:

    shiny pony Trudeau has his fathers looks and his mothers brains.

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