When Trudeau was sworn in as Prime Minister in 2015, it was well known that his family had enjoyed close ties with China. The National Post reports about Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (Justin’s father) visit to China in the midst of a famine that killed 30 million, he came back to report that China was a model of central planning! Trudeau was still a child when his father Pierre introduced him to Mao Zedong. Within months of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, the teenage Justin was with his family on a private visit to China (but fully supported by the Chinese State) during which his father took great pains to avoid criticizing China’s actions. A special article by Dr Sakariya Kareem on Trudeau family’s relationship with Communist China
In March 2023, a series of leaks from the Canadian Security & Intelligence Service (CSIS) hit the headlines in Canada. Of the many, the most explosive was one which claimed that Chinese agents had pursued an “influence” operation against Justin Trudeau since his earliest days as an opposition MP. Even more, damning is the book by Peter Schweizer, who writes in his “Red-Handed: How American Elites Get Rich Helping China Win” that “Leftist Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has followed in his father Pierre’s footsteps in assuming the high office and using it to further the interests of the Chinese Communist Party.” This allegation has a history to it and it is therefore, not surprising that Prime Minister Trudeau chose to ignore the CSIS leaks on China’s interference in the 2019 and 2021 elections in Canada and instead focused his ire on India, alleging that New Delhi had carried out an assassination of wanted Khalistani extremist.
When Trudeau was sworn in as Prime Minister in 2015, it was well known that his family had enjoyed close ties with China. The National Post reports about Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (Justin’s father) visit to China in the midst of a famine that killed 30 million, he came back to report that China was a model of central planning! Trudeau was still a child when his father Pierre introduced him to Mao Zedong. Within months of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, the teenaged Justin was with his family on a private visit to China (but fully supported by the Chinese State) during which his father took great pains to avoid criticizing China’s actions. The elder Trudeau was explicit about framing the People’s Republic of China as a friend of Canada whose methods were not to be criticized. Peter Schweizer writes that the Trudeau family was in China in the immediate aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. The now-ex prime minister, along with his two sons, an 18-year-old Justin and 15-year-old Alexandre, got permission for a family vacation but were informed that they would be accompanied at all times by government minders! The elder Trudeau refused to offer any criticism of the crackdown, either during the trip or after perhaps beholden to the Chinese for having made his family vacation a success.
Pierre Trudeau had an open affinity for Communist China, states Tristin Hopper in the National Post, that would be strange even by the standards of 2023. As a student, Pierre Trudeau had backpacked through China in 1949, just as Communist forces were completing their consolidation of the country. He visited again in 1960, in the midst of the Great Leap Forward, a disastrous program of national industrialization that ultimately led to the deadliest famine in human history, and ended up killing an estimated 30 million people in China. None of this was shown to Trudeau and his traveling companion Jacques Hebert – a Quebec journalist whom Trudeau would later appoint to the Senate. The pair’s Communist Party minders instead took them on a carefully staged tour featuring humming steel mills, fully stocked department stores and Chinese government officials reciting fantastical economic figures. The book, ‘Two Innocents in Red China’, penned by the senior Trudeau recalls his visit to China.
Justin Trudeau, at his first press conference in China after becoming Prime Minister reminisced about first visit as a “young boy” adding that “The friendship and the openness towards China that my father taught me, I’m certainly hoping to pass on not only to my children but to generations of Canadians in the future.” His leadership of the Liberal Party was marked almost immediately by an odd affinity to China for a government that had never entirely been in the good graces of the Canadian public. This is best characterized by a 2013 quote at a Toronto fundraiser in which he picked China as the “administration he most admired.” He went on to say, “There is a level of admiration I actually have for China because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to actually turn their economy around on a dime.” After successfully taking office in 2015, Trudeau would pursue what he called a “reset” with the People’s Republic of China. After his first meeting with President Xi in 2016, Trudeau said, “Canada wants to increase engagement with a peaceful, stable, and prosperous China,” He also thanked the PRC for the “great deal of warmth and respect” he found there.
But this dance with the dragon did not take long to sour and by 2018, China was openly kidnapping Canadian citizens in a bid to swing extradition proceedings against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. By late 2022, Xi Jinping was publicly dressing down the Canadian Prime Minister. “We should have conversations in a respectful way, otherwise, the result can’t be predicted,” Xi told Trudeau in a comment that many perceived as a veiled threat. The Chinese leader was objecting to Trudeau’s alleged leak of the details of an earlier conversation the two had shared. In November 2022, Trudeau said “unfortunately we’re seeing that countries, state actors from around the world, whether it’s China or others, are continuing to play aggressive games with our institutions, with our democracies.” The hard fact is that Trudeau faces increasing isolation, not just for his perceived tilt towards China, but also for his unsubstantiated allegations against India. The political repercussions of this action will be felt across the globe for some time, before the dust settles. Of interest is how China has used its influence operations globally to penetrate government systems. The CSIS leaks are a lesson for Canada and its governance systems, but is Justin Trudeau listening?