Pierre Trudeau: The Kremlin’s Interpreter

Via Canada’s National Post:

The Kremlin’s interpreter

Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro and Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau join in a singalong during the P.M.'s Latin American Tour in 1976.

A new book on Pierre Trudeau’s life recounts his cozy relationship with the world’s most brutal dictatorships

At the age of 32, Pierre Trudeau accepted an invitation from the Soviet government to attend a 1952 propaganda conference with an “economic agenda.” The other five members of the Canadian delegation included prominent members of the Communist Party of Canada. It was there that he remarked to the wife of U.S. chargé d’affaires that he was a communist and a Catholic and was in Moscow to criticize the U.S. and praise the Soviet Union. The U.S. State Department assessed Trudeau’s allegiances, noting that he evinced “an infantile desire to shock.” Canadian diplomats assured the Americans that Trudeau did not possess much common sense.

After being labeled a communist in his home province, Trudeau worried how this could derail his plan to run for public office someday. When Trudeau sought permission from the Church to sue his accusers, the bishop replied that given Trudeau’s writings, “I hesitate to consider this libel.”

With travelling companion Jacques Hébert (appointed to the Senate by Trudeau in 1983), Trudeau sojourned for six weeks through China in 1960. China was desperate for political recognition and had approached about 100 people before they found two Canadians willing to take the state-sponsored trip. Hébert noted that given their tattered reputations in Quebec, he and Trudeau were immune to reprisals.

Also in 1960 Trudeau set out from Florida in a canoe in an unsuccessful attempt to paddle to Cuba. Thousands of Cubans attempting to flee the island dictatorship would later die sailing in the opposite direction. After making it to Cuba in 1964 Trudeau remarked to a friend, “When you see mass rallies with Fidel Castro speaking for 90 minutes in 100 degree heat you wonder what is the need for elections.”

Such was Trudeau’s assessment of communism, and his variable commitment to democracy. After becoming prime minister, Trudeau rekindled whatever feelings of affection he had for these three communist regimes.

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5 thoughts on “Pierre Trudeau: The Kremlin’s Interpreter”

  1. I’m in the process of reading it now, but haven’t had much leisure time lately, so I haven’t gotten too far into it. I like what I’ve read, but it seems an offbeat approach. The book was actually written in Cuba, and apparently finished shortly before the author left Cuba for the US in the early 90s. It was published in 1994 by Salvat (Universal) here, and it can still be had through Amazon, though I’m sure it’s out of print. I’ll see about a review, eventually.

  2. It’s interesting, though (not to mention scary), how people as way “out there” as Trudeau can STILL manage to get so far for so long. It may be that they want it more and are more deceptive, manipulative or unscrupulous than “regular” people, but I think the decisive factor is that, at the end of the day, too many people, meaning the public, are simply too stupid, shallow or screwed up to see straight or choose well. Not a comforting thought.

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