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The Shifting Common Ground

January 2, 2014 Frontpage No Comments

By DONALD DeMARCO

Justin Trudeau, son of Pierre Trudeau, who brought abortion to his country, is campaigning to become prime minister of Canada. In an apparent attempt to bolster his chances, he has produced a memoir entitled, Common Ground. Jean Chrétien, a former prime minister of Canada, produced Straight From the Heart, a memoir that came straight from the pen of a ghostwriter. One does not put much stock in the sincerity of political memoirs these days.
One reviewer compares Trudeau’s book to what has been said of President Obama’s oratory: “It sails because it has no weight.” It is platitudinous, vague, and rhetorical. But these are not its major weaknesses. It is essentially contradictory with a degree of transparency that is rarely matched, even by politicians. He preaches “equality of opportunity and diversity of thought and belief.” He advises people to have tolerance, which he defines as “putting up with others who are different.”
This is the same Justin Trudeau who declared that he would no longer allow candidates seeking nomination to the Liberal Party to be pro-life. On May 7, 2014, he issued the following public statement: “I have made it clear that future candidates need to be completely understanding that they will be expected to vote pro-choice on any bills.”
In response to this statement, Toronto’s archbishop, Thomas Cardinal Collins, dispatched a letter to Trudeau in which he reminded the young candidate that “political authority is not limitless: it does not extend to matters of conscience and religious faith. It does not govern all aspects of life.” He went on to say that “political leaders in our day should not exclude such people of integrity, no matter how challenging they find their views. . . . I urge you to reconsider your position.”
What can Trudeau possibly mean by a “Common Ground” other than the ground that undergirds only those politicians that are unwaveringly pro-abortion? But it cannot mean “common ground” in any broad and democratic sense. In addition, his notion of “tolerance” is equally narrow, excluding all right-thinking Catholics, anyone who is pro-life, as well as all those who are open to dialogue on critical moral issues. Whether the Canadian public will vote him into office, despite his blatant lack of logic, tolerance, liberality, and willingness to listen to others, remains to be seen.
Obama talked about “working together to find a common ground” on the abortion issue. But there was no need to organize a collective hunting party to find something that was never lost, namely the common ground specified in the Declaration of Independence ensuring that all people have the unalienable right to life.
It is supremely ironic that a man who calls himself liberal would reject anyone precisely on the grounds that he is liberal. In 1990, John Paul II wrote Ex Corde Ecclesiae (Born from the Heart of the Church). It is a liberal document. Written the year after the 1989 collapse of the Soviet Union, it is as an expression of the Holy Father’s conviction that it is crucial for free societies old and new to honor the relationship between freedom and truth.
Politics in the Soviet Union did not honor that relationship, as is well known. In Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the Holy Father encouraged “a kind of universal humanism [that is] . . . completely dedicated to the research of all aspects of truth in their essential connection with the Supreme Truth, who is God.” Truth is not the common ground of the political elite. Truth is both universal and discoverable.
We need to know the truth about abortion, marriage, and the family. And we need to approach these realities with an open and judicious mind. “The present age is in urgent need of this kind of disinterested service,” John Paul writes, “namely of proclaiming the meaning of truth, that fundamental value without which freedom, justice, and human dignity are extinguished.”
Politics errs in a most egregious way when it exercises power with little or no regard for the truth of things. Trudeau, not surprisingly, regards same-sex marriage as a “core value” and even as a “Canadian value.” His notion of a “common ground,” therefore, is an effrontery to any thinking Canadian. His memoir is really an admission that he is not a valid candidate for political office.

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