We recently passed the three-year anniversary of one the most regrettable days in Canadian politics:
On April 14, 2013, Justin Trudeau was elected leader of the party of Chretien, Martin, and Canada’s socialist Socrates and his father, Pierre Trudeau.
Indeed, Justin's "qualifications" for becoming Liberal leader included having been a teacher, boxer and actor – and of course bearing the same recognizable last name as PM Pierre.
If that isn’t an example of narcissism and "ambition exceeding ability," what is?
I use the word "narcissism" here because although I'm not a psychiatrist, I earned my Ph.D-equivalent graduate degree as a sociologist many years ago, which included a full practicum with the psychiatric department of the University of Toronto medical school.
It's what Swiss psychoanalyst Alice Miller, author of the classic monograph on narcissists, “Prisoners of Childhood,” would have described as Justin Trudeau’s “As If” behavioral patterns: acting as if he had accomplished his grandiose ambitions for himself, even though he hadn’t!
And what about his current self-described “accomplishments” as Prime Minister already?
Let's make our point the simplest way, by comparing the historically unique achievements of Trudeau father and son:
When Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau left office, the Canada debt had risen to over $154 billion, shockingly 738% higher than when previous Conservative Prime Minister Joe Clark left office.
When Stephen Harper was voted out of power – in favour of Justin Trudeau – the budget was balanced, with no deficit, and new economic policies implemented to ensure a budget surplus in future years.
Recently, however, Justin Trudeau’s first budget projected $113 billion more debt for Canada, with no budget surplus in sight.
To summarize, as one disgruntled online conservative web site phrased it:
“Pierre Trudeau puts Canada in the toilet, and his son pulls the handle!”
But let’s now turn to another trait common to what psychiatrists call the “functioning” narcissist -- functioning in the sense of being capable of impressive achievements (versus the kind of schizoid personality whose grandiose fantasies land them in a psychiatric institution).
And that impressive achievement might perhaps include becoming Prime Minister of Canada, thanks to a superficial charm and learned ability to “empathize” with the needs and wishes of those whom he or she interacts with (just as he or she learned to “empathize” with every need or wish of a gifted and remote parent -- for example, Pierre Elliot Trudeau)?
Another narcissistic trait relevant to our discussion? Grandiose “fantasies” and “magical thinking.” Meaning? This troubled individual’s interior psychology is rooted in the narcissistic belief that his dreams, thoughts, and wishes can magically affect reality.
So as mentioned earlier, despite possessing the modest qualifications required for being elected leader of a major political party in Canada -- having been a teacher, boxer and actor – Justin Trudeau’s decision to run for leader could have been based on this sort of narcissistic “magical thinking."
And of course, mainly because of his surname and mythical biographies of his father written by Liberal acolytes, Justin the Younger did get elected. This reinforced his belief that whatever he wished for could become reality: like promising expensive “goodies” to bribe voters, but also promising to simultaneously generate "a modest short-term deficit" of less than $10 billion for each of the first three years of his incumbency, and then a balanced budget by the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
Some of those “goodies” (i.e., free “handouts” for voters)?
(1) Tax benefit for teachers
(2) $150 million in new annual funding for the CBC
(3) $1.5 billion for public transit in Calgary, and,
(4) put another $100 million into organizations that promote clean technology firms.
And what about that "modest short-term deficit"? Ooops!
Justin and his Finance Minister are now projecting a $29.4 billion deficit in 2016-17, followed by a $29-billion shortfall in 2017-18, and over $22 billion in 2018-19.
According to National Post columnist John Ivison:
“Over the next five years, Tuesday’s budget shows $113.2 billion in red ink, including a $14.3 billion shortfall for 2020-21 — after the next scheduled federal election.”
Returning to Alice Miller’s writings, can we identify another typical narcissistic trait which might apply to Canada’s current Prime Minister?
In particularly, she “deconstructed” the typical behavioral patterns of children raised by gifted and emotionally remote parents, who cause the child to feel “inferior” to their parents, and consequently want to win the parents’ praise.
Such children then develop what Miller described as an amazing ability to perceive and respond intuitively (i.e., unconsciously) to the wishes of that parent – the ability to superficially “emphasize” with needs and wishes of others, a particular valuable trait for an adult politician.
Remember what one prominent Brazilian journalist wrote after Justin Trudeau visited her fair land?
Vilma Gryzinski targeted Trudeau’s “dazedly well-intentioned” policies, suggesting that his “inclusive” attitude on immigration and refugees shows that he's “soft on terror.”
She also sarcastically commented on the attention the “narcissistic” leader received after the re-publication of a five-year-old photo of him leaning into a table in a yoga “peacock" pose.
“Justin Trudeau is the incarnation of the dreams of the vaguely left-wing liberalism; a handsome guy who shows off his physics with no shame and in yoga poses — an Oedipean reproduction of his father, Pierre Trudeau,” she opined.