Mulroney says Trudeau to blame for Meech failure
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Wednesday, September 5, 2007 10:12PM EDT
Former prime minister Brian Mulroney directly and bitterly blames Pierre Trudeau for his greatest political defeat: the failure of the Meech Lake Accord that recognized Quebec as a distinct society.
In a CTV documentary to be broadcast Sunday -- and in his soon-to-be-released memoirs -- Mulroney recounts how Trudeau used a personal vendetta to turn the public against an Accord that was supported almost entirely by the political class.
"(Trudeau) called me a weakling, he called us cowards, he called the premiers snivelers," Mulroney told Lloyd Robertson, CTV's chief news anchor and senior news editor.
"You name it, it was all there, it was a vicious personal attack."
The Meech Lake Accord was a set of failed Constitutional amendments hammered out by Mulroney and the 10 premiers, including Quebec's Robert Bourassa, in 1987. The Accord was designed to persuade Quebec to endorse the Canada Act.
Mulroney had hoped to upstage Trudeau, who had failed to persuade Quebec to sign onto the 1981 Constitution after months of debate with the premiers. And it was clear in the interview that the failure of the Accord still troubles Mulroney deeply after 14 years out of office.
Mulroney accuses Trudeau of being jealous of his success in bringing Quebec onside, which is why he said Trudeau and his political followers torpedoed the Accord. He said this view is even supported by one of Trudeau's inner circle.
"One of his cabinet ministers, Francis Fox, said 'Look, the only reason for this, is that Pierre Trudeau doesn't want Brian Mulroney to succeed where he has failed'," Mulroney said.
The Accord died in June 1990, when Newfoundland and Manitoba failed to approve it. The fiasco of Meech ended up generating a sense of disappointment toward the federal system and led many Quebecers to reconsider separation.
"He had the option of being helpful, or being destructive -- and he chose the destructive course," said Mulroney.
While vigorously defending his achievements, Mulroney also dug into Trudeau's past, including the flamboyant former prime minister's refusal as a young man to fight in the Second World War.
"This is a man who questioned the Allies and when the Jews were being sacrificed and when the great extermination program was on -- he was marching around Outremont here on the other side of the issue," said Mulroney.
"He's entitled to make that kind of decision. But it doesn't qualify him for any position of moral leadership in our society."
Mulroney's comments echoed those by critics who blasted Trudeau for riding around rural Quebec on a motorcycle during World War II while wearing a 19th-century German army helmet.
In the 2006 book "Young Trudeau," the authors pored over the young Trudeau's private papers and revealed that the future federalist once plotted to take Quebec out of Canada and embraced francophone nationalism -- while shrugging off reports of Nazi atrocities as British propaganda.
Authors Max and Monique Nemni say Trudeau's attitudes can be attributed to the influence of his upbringing and the norms and mores of the day. But nevertheless, it shocked many to learn of the ideals and influences embraced by the 1930s and early 1940s-era Trudeau.
The two-hour special, Triumph & Treachery: The Brian Mulroney Story, will make its television premiere Sunday, Sept. 9, 2007 at 7 p.m. (check local listings) on CTV.