Did Justin Trudeau just deal with his father issues by purchasing a pipeline?

    1 of 4 2 of 4

      Try to imagine what it must have been like growing up as the son of former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau.

      You probably would have heard more than a million times how great your dad was.

      You likely would have encountered scores of people telling you how the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms changed their lives.

      You would have met Ismaili Muslims, Chilean Canadians, and people of many other cultural and religious backgrounds telling you how grateful they were that your father enabled them to come to Canada to build a new life.

      Scholars would have told you that your dad was brilliant. Some might have even remarked that your father had attended Harvard, the London School of Economics, and the Sorbonne, which is the academic equivalent of scoring a hat trick.

      Gays and lesbians would have said they're eternally grateful to your father for declaring that the state had no place in the bedrooms of the nation.

      Older women would have recalled swooning over your father when they were younger. Men would have commented on his toughness.

      And on your father's death, you would have witnessed 60,000 people visiting Parliament Hill to view his casket. Then you would have seen thousands more gathered along railway tracks to simply be present when the funeral train passed, taking your father's body to Montreal.

      That's a lot to take in for a young man trying to carve out his own identity in the world.

      The shadow of the father could be overwhelming.

      This 1990 CBC News story shows Justin Trudeau claiming that he's never been influenced by peer pressure.

      Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung described the process of "individuation" as integrating the conscious and unconscious parts of ourselves to become self-actualized.

      According to Jung, the first stage is known as "differentiation", which has a goal of developing an individual personality.

      But how do you become your own man when your dad has had such a compelling and strong influence on the nation?

      For Justin Trudeau, that manifested itself in him breaking free, in a psychological sense.

      He decided to be a snowboard instructor and a French, drama, and math teacher rather than a lawyer and a founder of an intellectual magazine.

      He grew his hair long and sometimes sported a moustache or a carefully trimmed beard.

      He decided that his marriage, unlike his father's, was going to last for a very long time.

      He would demonstrate his manliness by fighting a tough Conservative senator in a charity boxing match.

      Justin Trudeau didn't study at the world's most prestigious universities like his father did. Instead, he went to homegrown Canadian schools, including the University of British Columbia.

      Living in Vancouver at the corner of Granville and West 12th Avenue, Justin Trudeau could do his own thing far from the streets of Montreal where his father's presence loomed so large.  

      And in Vancouver while attending university and starting his teaching career, Justin Trudeau could reflect on where his father might have done a better job as prime minister.

      There were two major failings, aside from running up huge deficits.

      The first is that Pierre Trudeau was very slow to share power with female MPs. He didn't appoint a single woman to his first cabinet in 1968.

      This occurred even though his predecessor, Lester B. Pearson, had brought Judy LaMarsh into cabinet in 1963 and kept her there until 1968.

      Pierre Trudeau finally appointed his first female cabinet minister, Jeanne Sauvé, in 1972. She was the only woman who made the cut that year and only in the relatively minor portfolio of minister of state for science and technology.

      This 2015 CTV news story looked at the influence of Pierre Trudeau on Justin Trudeau.

      Another of Pierre Trudeau's failings was angering Alberta with the National Energy Program in the early 1980s. It created a rift between Alberta and the federal Liberals that remains to this day.

      So if Justin Trudeau wanted to outdo his brilliant father in a political sense, there were two paths for achieving that.

      One was to show that he was better than his dad when it came to sharing power with women. We all know how that worked out: the first gender-balanced cabinet in Canadian history was appointed by Trudeau junior.

      "Because it's 2015," Justin Trudeau famously said after his government was sworn in.

      He also set about healing the split between Albertans and the Liberal Party of Canada. 

      This culminated in the federal government announcing last week that it's going to buy Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline system. The Liberals are also promising to complete an expansion project that will triple shipments of diluted bitumen from Alberta to the B.C. coast.

      "Pick up those tools, folks," Alberta premier Rachel Notley said. "We have a pipeline to build."

      The pipeline system itself is going to cost $4.5 billion and it will cost many more billions to build the new infrastructure.

      Video: Justin Trudeau chokes up as he looks at a 1973 photo of his father.

      In a Jungian sense, Justin Trudeau's process of individuation is moving forward quite successfully—he's better than his dad in keeping Albertans happy and he's better than his dad when it comes to appointing women to cabinet. He's no sexist.

      Justin Trudeau has his own fully formed personality even after having grown up with such a famous and revered father.

      Unfortunately for the planet, however, Justin Trudeau has also gone a long way toward ensuring that Canada will not meet its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Agreement.

      By purchasing a pipeline, he's shown the world that he's not a leader in facing up to the most pressing issue facing humanity in the 21st century.

      That, of course, is addressing climate change to stave off the deaths of hundreds of millions of people, if not more, in the decades to come.

      As a daring snowboarder in Whistler, Justin Trudeau demonstrated a propensity for taking risks. That was part of his personality.

      This was also on display when he sought the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada at a relatively young age and set out to defeat former prime minister Stephen Harper.

      Unfortunately for the rest of humanity, his biggest gamble nowadays is with the planet.

      Our risk-loving prime minister is rolling the dice again, this time in the highest-stakes game of our lives.

      One wonders how things might have differed had his father Pierre not been so eager to antagonize Albertans almost 40 years ago.

      Comments