Press-Republican

Black

April 19, 2013

Bringing Liberal civil war to an end

Abraham Lincoln he is not. And he did not exactly say “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

However, when Justin Trudeau assumed the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada on Sunday, he vowed to put an end to the civil warfare that has divided the once almighty party for nearly 30 years — since his father, Pierre, left the job.

The 41-year-old Trudeau won the post with a whopping 80 percent of the more than 100,000 party supporters who voted online. This marks the largest vote ever to elect a political leader in Canada.

Trudeau inherits a party that little resembles the one his dad won back in 1968, when he was 49. (For the record, Pierre Trudeau won the Liberal crown with only 51 percent of the vote). When the elder Trudeau took power, the Liberals had ruled Canada since 1896, with a few interruptions.

When Pierre retired in 1984, the seeds were sown for what would turn out to be decades of party feuding and in-fighting. This has led to the party’s descent into what is now the lowest point ever, with a mere 34 seats in the House of Commons and relegated to third-party status behind the leftist New Democratic Party and the ruling Conservatives of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

With Trudeau gone, the party split into two camps, with one backing the one-time heir apparent of the Liberals, John Turner, and the other Jean Chretien, Trudeau’s loyal go-to minister, once described as looking like the guy who drove the getaway car.

Turner beat Chretien and went on to serve briefly as prime minister before the Liberals were turfed from office.

Nine years later, Chretien, having beaten star recruit Paul Martin for the leadership, brought the Liberals back to power and won three consecutive majority governments. All the while, supporters of Martin, mostly Turner backers, were impatient for Chretien to relinquish the party leadership.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Black
  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Big shift in Quebec vote

    Being a man of science, Philippe Couillard, premier-designate of Quebec, chose to use a geological term (though his field is actually medicine) to describe what happened in Monday's election, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Trench warfare in Quebec elections

    I've seen many a Quebec election in my day (I'll skip the "by cracky"), writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    April 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Dr. Phil's election prescription Philippe Couillard is a brain surgeon, not a psychiatrist, so his expertise is not necessarily understanding the collective mind of Quebecers, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    March 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Party's charter flight to majority

    It's not surprising the political maneuvering in recent weeks in Quebec City has been dubbed the "winter games," writes Canadian columnist Peter Black

    February 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Joe Ryan's mountain vision

    Eventually someone surely would have taken the initiative to turn what the Algonquins called Manitonga Soutana and the locals called Mont Tremblant into a popular outdoor recreational destination, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    February 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Montreal's Genie on the courts

    In a land where raquettes de neige (snowshoes) are more popular than raquets (tennis), a young Canadian with classic California surfer girl looks is turning heads on the court.

    January 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Columnist's Canada in 1954

    I will depart from my usual discreet journalistic anonymity just this once and offer a few personal reflections on my life as a Canadian, writes columnist Peter Black.

    January 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • peter_black.jpg Prime minister's hockey history

    By my count, President Barack Obama has written three books under his own pen, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    December 27, 2013 1 Photo

  • peter_black.jpg Quebec City displays Holy Door

    It's the first and only such thing in North America: a Holy Door, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    December 13, 2013 1 Photo