But they share one thing in common, Trudeau was, and Harper is, determined to change the fundamental makeup of our country.
In this respect the two men stand apart from the other Prime Ministers of the modern era, who were basic caretakers, determined to govern what Canada was rather than attempt to re-shape the country into something else.
Trudeau entered the Prime Ministers office, as head of state of a British Commonwealth country that was basically English with a French minority. He left office having reshaped Canada into a country dedicated to bilingualism and the principle of equality and shared power between the founding French and English nations.
Although Stephen Harper, has been head of state for several years, because of his minority situation, he has had to put aside his grand plans. Now that he's got that hitherto elusive majority, he is rushing ahead with his plan to return the country to its pre-Trudeau version.
What Trudeau gave to Francophones and Quebec, Harper is determined to take away.
There's no other way to describe it.
Those who've read this blog for a while, know that I warned readers that Quebecers would have Hell to pay if Harper ever got a majority without Quebec support.
This is what I wrote last year.
Oct. 9, 2009 - Payback's a Bitch For Bloc Quebecois
"If a majority government can be achieved without Quebec, it will mean the end of the Bloc Quebecois as a force." Link
Oct. 29, 2009 - Stephen Harper Set to Deliver Another Painful Dose of Payback to QuebecMost Quebecers pooh-pooh this notion, blithely believing that the pandering that had been going on for the last forty years would continue unabated and the coy little scam of offering support pre-election to the government of the day, while withdrawing it at the polls come election day, would be successful eternally......It is wishful thinking.
"No matter how accommodating, no matter how much money Ottawa ships to Quebec, no matter how many political concessions are made, Quebeckers will continue to thumb their noses at federalist parties.
It's a lesson that took both the Liberals and the Conservatives many years to comprehend, but the penny has finally dropped, at least on the Conservative side. Mr. Harper and the Conservative party have written off Quebec politically. Link
In fact, many Quebecers remain shocked that this isn't the case and are patiently waiting for Harper to cave.
They shouldn't hold their breath.
The majority government, the demise of the Bloc Quebecois and the separatist movement, coupled with the sparse representation in cabinet and back benches of francophone Conservatives, represents a confluence of circumstances that is allowing Harper a free hand to reshape Canada to the detriment of the Francophone element of this country.
Like a kid in the candy store, Harper's majority government is a dream come true. There'll be no more pussyfooting around over issues and groveling before the opposition.
Meet the real Stephen Harper, he's a scary fellow.
And so it is that all those militant separatists, liberal politicians, journalists and pundits, who warned us that Harper had a secret agenda, turned out to be right after all!
The speed and scope at which Harper is engineering the emasculation of Quebec and Francophone influence in Canada is breathtaking.
It is as if Harper is determined to do it all in this mandate, just in case he doesn't get re-elected.
The Queen RCAF and RCN
Perhaps the most blatant disregard of Quebec sentiments was the re-emphasis of the Queen as a national symbol. It's puzzling because the issue is long settled, with most Anglo Canadians relatively satisfied with the subdued level of inclusion of the Royals as Canadian symbols.
Starting with the removal of two paintings by a Quebec artist in the National defence department, replaced by a large portrait of the Queen, one could only wonder if this was a signal to Quebec of things to come. The government also promised that the Queen's portrait will return to the foyer of all Canadian foreign missions.
All this, for what good reason?
Changing the name of the Air Force and the Navy back to its historical roots with references to the monarchy best illustrates how much the Conservatives are intent on winding back time.
30 New Parliamentary Seats
It's easy to do the right thing, when by doing so, one benefits and so Harper is going ahead with his promise to add thirty new seats to the federal Parliament. Eighteen seats will go to Ontario, seven in B.C. and five in Alberta and of course none to Quebec.
While the redistribution will address real under-representation issues, it will have the side effect of weakening Quebec's weight in Parliament, something not lost on the PM.
Better still, the seats will go to ridings that should split between the Liberal and Conservative parties. If the Liberals, down in the dumps now, are unable to recover by the next election, the Conservatives will win the majority of those new seats.
The Champlain Bridge
I'm really quite surprised that neither Quebec politicians or journalists are complaining about the rat move the Conservatives pulled on Quebec vis-a-vis the Champlain bridge.
Why the bridge falls in the federal domain of competence is a mystery of the strange division of power and jurisdictions between Ottawa and the provinces, but somehow it falls on Ottawa to maintain the most important and busiest bridge in
After refusing to make any promises in the last election, the Conservatives announced that a new bridge would in fact be built, but then downloaded the responsibility to pay for it on users, via tolls.
It was a neat trick, like a grandfather visiting his grandchildren laden with Christmas presents and then offloading the VISA bill to the parents.
Since the kids are already enjoying the presents, there's nothing the parents can do! Well-played.
To add insult to injury, nobody from the provincial government was invited to attend the ceremony announcing the project, which was held, quite deliberately, while Premier Jean Charest was in Europe.
The message can't be clearer, cooperation between the Conservatives and the Charest government is out of the question. Harper still bears a grudge over Charest's grandstanding at an environmental conference in Copenhagen in 2009 where he lambasted Ottawa over policy and humiliated Harper. Link
Having the Prime Minister and the Premier of Quebec not talking and not cooperating cannot be a good thing for the country.
The Supreme Court
Are things lining up for Harper?...you bet!
It just so happens that many of the Supreme Court judges are set to retire, giving Harper a chance to rebuild the court in his conservative image.
New Brunswick MP Yvon Godin has been advocating for a bill that would require Supreme Court judges be bilingual as a condition for consideration. Link
Mr. Harper would probably eat his children before allowing that.
Perhaps Mr. Godin should be more concerned as to which judges Harper will place on the bench. The PM is known to be furious over the latest decision by the supremos which ordered the government to keep its hands off the safe injection (for druggies) site in British Columbia. The only 'activist' type of judge Harper wants on his court are those who 'act' on his conservative positions.
Removal of taxpayer subsidy for political parties
Harper's removal of the direct subsidy of political parties is again a case of doing the right thing when it conveniences him.
The move will cripple the re-emergence of the Bloc Québécois, who are mightily dependent on federal largess.
But what Harper didn't take away is the 75% tax deduction that taxpayers get when they do donate directly to political parties. That's because the Conservatives are the champion fund-raisers. Clever....
The Prime Minister isn't even going through the pretense of respecting French. By hiring a non-French speaker, Angelo Persichilli, as his national communications director he is sending a dangerous message that he just doesn't give a damn. The Conservative snub to Francophones runs deeper than the English only business cards of John Baird.
"An estimated $35 billion worth of contracts are up for grabs as part of a strategy to cover Canada's needs for the next three decades. Two shipyards could be picked for the work from among the three bidders: Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax, Seaspan Marine in Vancouver, and the Davie Shipyard in Lévis, Quebec." LINKGuess who is going to be odd man out....
We are only six months into the Conservative majority government and already the country is shifting dramatically. What will happen over the next four years remains to be seen, but if we look at the government's behaviour these last few months, francophones and Quebecers are in for a rough ride.
Readers know that I generally support Mr. Harper and the Conservative party agenda, but that being said, I cannot accept his project of returning Canada into an English country with a French minority.
It is not only unfair, but regressive.
With support for sovereignty at its nadir, it isn't time to kick Quebec just because the threat of separation is gone, it is a time to engage.
Shame on Mr. Harper.