The Truth about Trudeau by Bob Plamondon is one of those books that is destined to redefine the manner Canadian historians and writers pen biographical accounts. This is a book that makes an unchallengeable case on the record of a Prime Minister, wholly contrary to the prevalent narrative of our country’s liberal, chattering-class. Bob Plamondon’s mastery over government statistics and economic facts, his skills accumulating and researching government policies and outcomes of the period, and his laser-like abilities to parse a truth from the many legendary tales of the man – all of this makes his study of the Trudeau years in power a must read.
Here are some of the highlights (lowlights?) of Pierre Trudeau’s tenure in office as recorded in The Truth about Trudeau.
- The accumulated deficit rose tenfold, from $19.4 billion to $194.4 billion, or from 25.5 percent of GDP to 43.2 percent. Total annual federal spending was $12.9 billion in 1968 and $109.2 billion in 1984, leaping from 17 percent of GDP to 24.2 percent. This fueled inflation in Canada, to an average of 15 percent while Trudeau was in office – the worst inflation rate among developed nations.
- The Trudeau Government purposefully undermined our traditional alliances with Britain and the U.S.; pointlessly annoyed our major trading partners; and, of his own independent accord, Trudeau befriended communist dictators and regimes that were devoid of Canadian interests. His cavalier approach to foreign affairs resulted in multiple failed Canadian initiatives on the world stage: his North-South, Third Option, and world peace initiatives all failed.
- Trudeau’s misleading Quebecers and repatriating the constitution without Quebec’s consent created a difficult and lasting rift between Quebec and TROC. It also sowed the seeds of mistrust that born PQs’ rise to power and the creation of Bloc Quebecois.
- The Charter of Rights and Freedoms was not the jewel in the crown of a repatriated constitution, but rather a tool that has been used to Americanize our constitutional structure by making our culture more litigious and enabling judicial activism.
- And much more is recounted: the gutting of the military, effectively leaving the country defenseless; the implementation of a National Energy Program that was disastrous for western Canada’s economy and a lasting source of resentment; and, the social-minded, state-intervention approach to Canadian business that challenged free enterprise and destroyed private sector confidence – leading to greater inflation and unemployment rates of 11.2 percent in 1984 (it was 4.5 percent in 1968).