Stephen Moore: The malignant narcissism of Justin Trudeau
October 1 2023
Re-printed without permission
Stephen Moore, Special to National Post
Last week, Canadian House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota invited a 98-year-old man named Yaroslav Hunka to attend a speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Rota called Hunka a “Canadian hero,” and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cheered for Hunka alongside lawmakers. But Hunka, it turned out, had served in a Nazi unit during the Second World War, sparking outrage.
In response, Rota took “full responsibility,” apologized and then resigned on Tuesday. Trudeau called it “deeply embarrassing.” Trudeau then warned against “Russian propaganda and Russian disinformation.”
Trudeau’s non-apology and lecturing about “Russian disinformation,” even though it was the Canadian Parliament that celebrated a Nazi, thereby giving a boost to this so-called “disinformation,” is amusing, given his repeated denunciation of the Freedom Convoy as a Nazi-linked movement.
About the truckers, Trudeau said, “We are seeing activity that is a threat to our democracy, and that is undermining the public’s trust in our institutions.” Trudeau, one day later, compared the truckers to Nazis and American racial segregationists. “Conservative Party members can stand with people who wave swastikas,” he said. “They can stand with people who wave the Confederate flag.”
It should not have to be said, but it does: Trudeau had zero evidence then, and none today, that the truckers were racists or Nazis. The swastikas printed on flags at the convoy were intended not as endorsements of hate that symbol represents, but as criticism of the government’s overreach through a comparison of Trudeau’s government to Nazi Germany. Yet Trudeau condemned a Jewish member of parliament for being sympathetic to the convoy and for supporting “people who wave swastikas.”
Trudeau’s colleagues participated in his conspiracy theory. One Liberal MP said that truckers’ “Honk, Honk” slogan was a coded message for “Heil Hitler.” There was never any evidence for any of this then or now.
As such, Trudeau was spreading disinformation. Naturally, Trudeau has, for the last three years, been accusing others of spreading disinformation and demanding that social media companies like Facebook and Twitter censor the people he disagrees with.
To Americans, Canada’s political troubles may seem trivial and unimportant. The country is not a significant military power. It has fewer people than California. Its economy is the ninth in the world; California’s is the fourth. Trudeau has just been engaging in the usual progressive rhetoric of accusing his opponents of being Nazis, something both sides do, as the controversy over last Friday’s applauding showed. Many people outside of Canada may understandably conclude that the general awfulness of Justin Trudeau just isn’t very important.
But Trudeau is important, and what he’s doing in Canada should terrify everyone in the Western world who cares about being free from government tyranny, censorship, and disinformation. That’s because Trudeau is pioneering a new way for governments to take control over the information environment — spreading disinformation and demanding censorship — that is similar but different to efforts we are seeing in places like California, Australia, and New Zealand.
People across the Western world were rightly alarmed when Trudeau last year invoked, for the first time in Canadian history, the Emergencies Act (though its predecessor the War Measures Act had been previously used) and froze bank accounts of people associated with the Truckers’ cause. It was brazen thuggery that Trudeau justified by calling ordinary Canadians Nazis and racists.
Trudeau’s crackdown on the Freedom Convoy protestors was followed by efforts to regulate and control the internet. His Online Streaming Act and Online News Act, gave the government expansive new powers to regulate online media. Coming legislation addressing “online harms” could see the government claim wide-ranging censorship powers.
The atmosphere created by Trudeau and his party is completely upending Canadian society, leading to the persecution of his detractors and limiting speech and expression.
The College of Psychologists of Ontario recently ordered conservative psychologist Jordan Peterson to undergo social media training because they believed his tweets and opinions were problematic. An Ontario court then upheld the College’s decision.
And now, Trudeau is attacking parents who believe they should have to consent to whether their children under the age of 16 can change their sexual identity. Once again, he did so by accusing his political opponents of truly awful things.
“Far-right political actors are trying to outdo themselves with the types of cruelty and isolation they can inflict on these already vulnerable people,” Trudeau said of parents. “Well, trans kids need to feel safe, not targeted by politicians.”
All of this may seem shocking to people outside of Canada. To Americans and much of the world, Canadians are kind and friendly people. We have taken pride for decades in being nicer and more polite than Americans.
But what’s clear is that what’s going on in Canada is anything but dull. It’s terrifying. In looking to defend minorities and promote culture, Trudeau’s Liberals are everything they once feared. They are authoritarian, anti-democratic, and illiberal. And what’s happening in Canada is not separate from what’s happening in the US, the UK, Europe, and Brazil, but intimately connected to those nations. Trudeau isn’t so different from President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Governor Gavin Newsom, and most other Democrats in the U.S.
The difference is that he is ahead of them. Trudeau has taken Wokeism to another level. As such, to understand where the woke global war on freedom of speech is headed and how we can resist it, you have to understand why Justin Trudeau is so awful.
Narcissism, Wokeism, And Authoritarianism
According to Justin Trudeau and his Liberal party supporters, he and their party are the party of compassion for vulnerable people, freedom, and Canadian culture. Liberals care, in their view, while conservatives don’t care. Trudeau has proclaimed his loyalty to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And when the Liberals introduced their social media reform legislation, they said the goal was to promote Canadian culture, ensure the sustainability of the news industry, and guarantee we heard from marginalized voices.
But a government cannot claim to care about the vulnerable or about freedom while freezing bank accounts that made it harder for some families to buy groceries or make car payments, as Trudeau’s government did. Nor can the government claim to care about the vulnerable or freedom, while trying to regulate speech on the internet, which could conveniently help to stifle criticism of the government.
The main way Trudeau and the Liberal Party are trying to do this is by subsidizing news media and punishing smaller media outlets. This is similar to what governments are doing all around the world.
The government defends the crackdown on expression and speech by appealing to Canadians’ innate sense of kindness. Our leaders tell us we must protect our culture, protect the vulnerable, and care for our communities. They argue that limiting expression and criminalizing dissent is a means to that end. But censorship has always been used to hurt and marginalize minorities and has never helped them. Rights were won for African Americans, gays, and lesbians by ensuring they had the ability to express themselves freely.
Notoriously thin-skinned, the Trudeau government called for a critic of its legislation to be investigated. The Heritage Minister’s Parliamentary Secretary, Chris Bittle, called for an investigation into Digital First Canada, an organization that advocates for YouTubers and people posting videos on platforms.
Part of the problem is that Canada’s right to freedom of speech isn’t as strong as those provided by the Constitution in the United States. Freedom of expression is included in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; however, the preamble to the Charter states this freedom is subject to “reasonable limits.”
Another part of the problem is the heavy influence of activists in the mold of the World Economic Forum, whose founder pointed to Trudeau and his advisors as his protege. “I was at a reception for Prime Minister Trudeau, and I know that half of his cabinet, or even more than half of his cabinet, are actually Young Global Leaders,” said WEF founder Klaus Schwab. Schwab famously called for a “Great Reset” to rapidly transition the world away from fossil fuels, and Trudeau used the term “reset” to describe his COVID policy at the UN in November 2020.
But there is also the man himself. Trudeau’s actions aren’t about social progress, they’re about power and control. Trudeau embodies many of the traits of left-wing authoritarians. All authoritarians support censorship and submission. They tend to believe this is necessary because, in their minds, the population is naive and cannot be trusted.
Trudeau constantly splits the population into Liberal angels and Conservative devils. You either believe in Liberal climate policy or are a climate denier, according to Trudeau. You either mask up and vax up or are putting lives at risk. You either support the radical demands of trans activists or you hate sexual minorities.
This is known as “splitting;” it, along with entitlement and grandiosity, which Trudeau exhibits in spades, are signs of narcissism. Left-wing authoritarianism (LWA), according to new research, is virtually identical, psychologically, to narcissism. Trudeau has manipulated the “nice Canadians” by mesmerizing them with woke spiritual beliefs and rituals and, when that doesn’t work, bullying them.
There is also something deeply anti-social about Trudeau’s behaviors. To falsely accuse your opponents of Nazism and racism; to cut off the bank accounts of people who criticize you; and to demonize parents who don’t want to let school teachers parent their children — these are cruel and callous behaviors. The combination of these two behaviors, antisocial personality and narcissism, is known as malignant narcissism, a condition that, as Trudeau shows, is as awful as it sounds.
The Fall Of Trudeau
Few Canadians believe that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meant to undermine democracy or stand with Nazis last Friday when his Liberal party ally led the House of Commons in applauding a former Nazi. But that’s the whole point. Trudeau no more meant to undermine democracy or stand with Nazis than Canadian truckers meant to undermine democracy or stand with the Nazis, and yet Trudeau accused them of precisely that.
How did Trudeau manage to stay in office for so long while treating so many Canadians this way?
For starters, because Trudeau is appealing to something very real in Canadian culture. There is a grassroots demand for wokeism. Trudeau’s positions on COVID, race relations, climate change, trans rights, and others are about reinforcing a narrative and belief system that makes it easier for his supporters to understand the world in terms of good vs. evil.
Trudeau, his ministers, and the activists aligned with them are fuelled by a sense of grandiosity and entitlement found throughout the woke movement. This movement also exploits an increasingly atomized and isolated population. People need to feel purpose and belonging and are welcomed by accepting woke dogma and by practicing its rituals.
But neither Trudeau nor the Liberal party represent the majority. The Liberal party won re-election with 33 per cent of the vote in 2021. Despite having a smaller percentage of the vote, the Liberals won more seats than the Conservatives. They’ve held to power thanks to an agreement with the New Democratic Party, a party even further to the left than the Trudeau Liberals.
And now, cracks are showing in the Liberal support. Continued inaction on housing and ideologically driven overreach on many other issues including climate and parents’ rights. Because of their far-left position on these issues, a survey last week shows that just 31 per cent of Canadians prefer Trudeau, while 40 per cent want Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre as prime minister.
Increasingly, we see the Liberal Party playing the victim. Even while trying to apologize for applauding a Nazi, they still try to label their political opposition as evil.
After Speaker Rota’s apology, Liberal party House Leader, MP Karina Gould, said, “I want to please ask all colleagues, particularly those in the Conservative Party of Canada to make sure that we do not politicize this issue.” Gould then asked for unanimous consent to strike Rota’s praise for Hunka from the record of the House of Commons debates and from any multimedia recording.
Not only did Gould suggest that Conservatives were maliciously “politicizing” the issue, but she also attempted to rewrite history and cover up her party’s error. Gould once again demonstrated the Orwellian tactics that Trudeau’s party now regularly employs.
But for Conservatives to win, and govern, they’ll need to explain to the public that gains for minorities and progress on important issues do not come by limiting speech but by ensuring speech can happen freely. They’ll need to remind voters that societal values and beliefs change when we can freely express ourselves, share our thoughts, and enter into meaningful exchanges with one another.
As importantly, Canadian critics of Trudeau’s plans aren’t exclusively academics or conservatives. Famed novelist Margaret Atwood told the Globe and Mail bluntly, “It is creeping totalitarianism if governments are telling creators what to create.” And a well-respected Canadian Senator, David Adams Richards, a winner of the prestigious Governor-General’s Award and Giller Prize and a member of the Order of Canada, said, “The idea of any hierarchical politico deciding what a man or woman is allowed to write to fit a proscribed national agenda is a horrid thing.”
There are even signs that the Woke House of Cards, resting as it does on genetic and cultural determinism, is falling apart. An Indigenous TikTok creator said recently she felt “gaslit” after meeting with the federal government on the issue “in the sense that they tried to put my own people against me … They said they checked with other Indigenous social media, but I’m not here as Indigenous social media — I’m there as a content creator.”
Canadians can harness kindness to allow for openness and ensure our freedoms are protected. Only by doing this can we protect our democracy. Few Canadians see either Trudeau or Canadian truckers as Nazis. What needs to change now is for more of us to get angry when we see our leaders label our fellow citizens as such.
Stephen Moore is a pollster, and was political staffer in the office of former Nova Scotia premier Stephen McNeil. His research has been featured by New Republic, Globe and Mail, CBC, & others.