Political dynasties are inherently problematic and ambiguous. When politics becomes a family business, enabling bloodline clans and generational households to occupy the seat of power, we have what will often amount to the very antithesis of responsible political function. Indeed, countries like Indonesia have passed laws prohibiting relatives from immediately succeeding each other in public office.
As Siddhartha George argues in a paper on the descendant effects of political dynasties, employing “regression discontinuity design” (RDD), if political capital is heritable, that is, deriving from a prominent name or a powerful network, “dynastic politics may render elections less effective at selecting good leaders and disciplining them in office.” One of the factors involved in the likelihood of negative effects is, in his term, “moral hazard.” Descendants face moral hazard, he explains, “because they inherit voters loyal to their family predecessor (typically a father), dampening incentives to exert effort and perform well in office”—the common problem of the epigone.
This is especially true in the economic realm. Dynastic politics tend to issue in a “reversal of fortune,” that is, “a standard deviation decrease in wealth percentile rank.” Inherited political capital, George concludes, “allows descendants to persist in power even when they underperform,” as well as weakens “the ability of elections to select talented leaders.”
Dynastic families are a predictable feature of despotic regimes, such as the Kims in North Korea. They can be prominent in secular patristic regimes, such as the Peróns in Argentina or the Abes in Japan. Dynastic families readily assume office in democratic countries through name recognition and the accumulation of powerful resources, consisting of politically acquired wealth, long-haul expertise and extensive influence. One thinks of the Pitt family in Britain, the Adams and Roosevelt families in the U.S., and the Papandreous in Greece, each having produced two national leaders. One notes three generations of Nehru/Ghandi relations in India and the Bush family in the U.S. that enjoyed three terms in the White House, with indifferent results. The Clintons, for their part, almost achieved a regime by marriage.
The cataclysmic tenure of the Rajapaksa family in Sri Lanka, whose Thunberg/ Schwab apostleship caused the total ruin of their country, serves as an object lesson for the times. “What brought the crisis to a boil,” writes John Hulsman, “was the desire of the long-ruling Rajapaksa dynasty to curry favor with the international technocracy, making ‘Davos Man’ happy by overnight transforming the island into a net-zero nation, doing away at a stroke with all the chemical fertilizers and pesticides absolutely necessary to make the country function economically.”
While not yet a Sri Lanka-like basket case, Canada has clearly suffered under the sway of a political dynasty emanating from the province of Quebec with its legal system rooted in the Napoleonic Code and its predilection for authoritarian rule, whether clerical or political. There has always been something ultramontane about my home province. The British tradition of common law institutions, linguistic plurality and individual rights and freedoms never took solid hold in la belle province. As University of Oxford professor and author of Pluralist Thought and the State in Britain and France Cécile Laborde pithily explains, “French thought has been permeated by the idea of the autonomy of the state vis-à-vis society at large, while British thought has remained committed to an ideal of fluidity between state and society.”
Pierre Elliott Trudeau, a charismatic and authoritarian personality who served as prime minister of Canada for 15 years (and 164 days), is a case in point. His avowedly leftist politics and close friendships with dictators like Fidel Castro were a severe blow to the country’s democratic identity and Loyalist patrimony. Canada’s current civil and political difficulties and dwindling economic prospects owe much to his National Energy Program (NEP) of 1980, the first move in the gradual destruction of Canada’s oil and gas producing regions, located primarily in the province of Alberta, at the expense of both the province’s and the country’s prosperity. Moreover, according to Gwyn Morgan in the Financial Post, “During the 15 years that Pierre Trudeau was prime minister, federal spending rose from 30 to 53 percent of GDP.”
As Bob Plamondon reveals in his compendious The Truth about Trudeau, “The discrepancy between the strong economic position Trudeau inherited from his predecessor and the calamity he left to his successor could not be more stark…Trudeau left deep divisions and scars…a legacy of economic destruction, regional alienation, military emasculation, and international isolation.” Such is the elder Trudeau’s legacy to Canada. Plamondon concludes: “Trudeau may have brought Canada moments of glamour, but in the end his pirouettes were not worth the price.”
Though devoid of his father’s intellectual sophistication, Justin Trudeau is following in the footsteps of le père in devastating Canada’s tradition of freedom and prosperity. There is really nothing new under the son. On the economic front, overall federal spending accounts for 64 percent of GDP and, as of 2020, the gross national debt has risen to 129.2 percent of GDP and continues to rise. Politically, Justin is dismantling Canada’s democratic scaffolding girder by girder, aligning the country with the globalist vision (or Great Reset) of a new world order predicated on wealth distribution away from small business and the middle class to the corporate elite, an international green agenda, and a redesign of the free market to favor the corporate takeover of global governance. Davos Man will be happy. Increasingly centralized authority allows Trudeau, who may be regarded as a “moral hazard” par excellence, to get away with one despotic initiative after another, including 72 secret Orders-in-Council.
Donald J. Savoie observes in Democracy in Canada: The Disintegration of Our Institutions, an unsparing analysis of Canada’s federal and parliamentary dysfunction: “Trudeau fils pointed to his father for putting in place measures to concentrate power.” Justin himself concedes, in his own words, that “the trend toward more control in the Prime Minister’s Office…can be traced as far back as my father, who kicked it off in the first place.” The dynasty persists in working its mischief.
When it comes to politicians like the Trudeaus, the dynastic urge to consolidate power and reset a representative mode of government in the direction of outright tyranny is irresistible. They are the only two leaders who have invoked the 1914 War Measures Act in peacetime, when neither occasion demanded it, even in trying circumstances. (The Emergencies Act, passed into law in 1988, is the same beast by another name.) Regarding the first instance, the October Crisis in the fall of 1970, Plamondon writes, furnishing strong evidence to support his claim, that Trudeau senior “wildly overestimated or purposely exaggerated the threat to society” from a ragtag group of sovereignist insurgents. In the second case, the truckers protest in Ottawa in the winter of 2022, Trudeau junior perpetrated a needless and destructive farce provoked, as many believe, by personal spite or mere authoritarianism. It must be a family trait.
The Trudeau dynasty with its autocratic pathology has spelled approaching collapse for a once fortunate country. Canada has been torn from its historical foundations, its heirs having become what Cultural Action Party of Canada director Brad Salzberg calls Trudeau’s “nemesis communities”: “old stock” Canadians, anglophones, westerners, conservatives, truckers, oil sands workers, farmers, Christians and pro-lifers. At the same time, Trudeau has promoted 3rd-world immigrants, the LGBTQIA+ sodality, transgenders, violent agitators, illegals, freeloaders and indigents to the top of the food chain—after all, “diversity is our strength.”
The social order has been inverted by an anti-democratic, non-consultative political family. Younger brother Alexandre (Sacha), also an acolyte of Fidel Castro and, like his father, animated by a profound appreciation of China, does not, apparently, evince an interest in “dynastic script fulfillment.” It appears that the dynasty will stop at two Trudeaus, though it may be too late for rejoicing. The dynastic work has been done and Canada may never be the same again.