Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Blaming Trudeau: Cuba edition

Back in undergrad, I thought I'd heard every plausible "Blame Trudeau" story - I hung out with a fair few Reform Party Youth folks back in the day (which, by and large, was predominantly libertarian as opposed to the more populist and social conservative parts of the party). I still remember the Referendum Night party where half the room cheered for Quebec to stay and the other half cheered for them to go. Good times.

But I'd never heard this one, from John English's bio of Trudeau.
“Trudeau’s concerns about making haste too quickly, with potentially disastrous results for the health of any society, were apparent in the mid-Nineties, when Castro’s Cuba, reeling from the impact of the abrupt end of financial support from the Soviet Union, considered opening up its rigid state socialist system. Because of its historic economic ties with Cuba, Canada became involved in discussions with the Cuban government. James Bartleman, then the chief foreign policy advisor to prime minister Jean Chr├ętien, later indicated that Castro abandoned his plan to loosen socialist restraints after a conversation with Trudeau, who cautioned him about its impact on the social health of his country. No record of Trudeau’s conversation is available, but Bartleman’s account rings true because of Trudeau’s friendship with Castro and his respect for the gains achieved by Cuba in the areas of health and education.”

Fidel must have been deeply grateful for Trudeau’s advice; the Cuban people, not so much.
Egads! No fan of the National Energy Program, but this is worse if true.

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