Skip to main content

The eldest son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau is belittling nationalism as an "old idea from the 19th century" that is not relevant to today's Quebec.

"Nationalism is based on a smallness of thought," Justin Trudeau said in an interview broadcast on CTV's Canada AM on Thursday.

"(It) builds up barriers between peoples, that has nothing to do with the Canada we should be building."

He was being interviewed about a new book about his father titled Citizen of the World: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

Although for the most part Mr. Trudeau talked about the book written by history professor John English, he digressed into the debate on Quebec's place in Canada that erupted last weekend when Liberal leadership front runner Michael Ignatieff supported the idea of recognizing Quebec as a nation.

"I'm supposed to be, sort of quiet on this," an almost sheepish Mr. Trudeau said.

Mr. Trudeau didn't directly mention the debate in the party his father led for nearly two decades, but he appeared to think the nation issue was not a good one to get tied up in.

"Unfortunately, some people these days are wrapped up in this idea of nation for Quebec, which stands against everything my father ever believed," Mr. Trudeau said. "We need to start looking forward."

A resolution calling for Quebec to be recognized as a nation was passed by the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party last weekend.

It was quickly supported by Mr. Ignatieff, who in turn was sharply criticized by rivals Stephane Dion and Bob Rae.

Both men have warned of the danger of reopening the Quebec debate and Mr. Dion has expressed concern that the Liberal Party's fortunes could be hurt.

Mr. Trudeau has been touted by some as a potential political star for the future.

He has not ruled out the possibility of following in his father's footsteps and has maintained a public profile, travelling the country to promote environmental issues and youth involvement in politics.

Citizen of the World: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau is the first of a two volume series. It was written by English with the approval of the Trudeau family, which gave the author access to the former prime minister's private letters, papers and even old schoolwork.