Are the rumours and conspiracy theories really true, deau?
Last month I stumbled upon an article discussing the theory that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is the illegitimate son of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. The article is a fascinating look into how the written word can be used to twist facts for the purposes of clickbait. I guess I’ve played my hand a bit early with that last sentence, because when you take a step back from it’s narrative of political romance, this conspiracy theory sounds more and more like, well…a conspiracy theory.
The article sets the scene by discussing the promiscuity of Pierre Trudeau and his wife Margaret in excruciating detail, a sentence I am both amused and ashamed to have just typed. It aggressively asserts that: “It is a fact the Trudeaus were in the Caribbean in Spring 1971. It is a fact they adored Castro. It is a fact the Trudeaus were swingers” (Leibowitcz, 2020). Examine how this information is presented. We are first given a legitimate fact, the Trudeaus were in the Carribean in the spring of ‘71. The next claim is more subjective; the Trudeaus “adored” Castro. They certainly had good relations, at least in comparison to the United States at the time. However, to say that they “adored” Castro is not only a stretch, but a purposefully deceitful choice of language. Finally, we are presented with the fact that the Trudeaus were swingers. While it is true that Margaret did have an affair with Ted Kennedy (after all, nothing bad ever happens to the Kennedys!) calling them swingers in this context is a purposeful misnomer. During the height of his popularity in the late 60’s Pierre was described as a fresh, handsome and hip politician, not unlike his son. At the time, swinger was not a term for promiscuity but rather a term to describe someone new and cool. A prominent example of this is the term “The Swingin’ Sixties”, a time of great cultural revolution. A CBC broadcast from 1968 even has children calling Pierre as a swinger as a compliment!
Swinging aside, let’s look at the details. The theory hinges on the fact that as previously mentioned, the Trudeaus went on a Carribean honeymoon around the 13th of April, 1971. They visited many islands, from Trinidad to Barbados, yet as this news clipping from the Ottawa Journal states: “They left on a quick side trip to an unidentified island […] the local press was asked to respect the newlyweds desire for privacy.” (Ottawa Journal, 1971) Justin was born 8 and a half months later on Christmas Day. This is the only concrete evidence of Castro potentially being Justin’s father. The article uses many less credible sources. One of which is the fact that “The Trudeaus introduced Castro to their children” and held them lovingly, as opposed to holding children unlovingly and with great disgust. It argues that Pierre and Justin look nothing alike, which is fair, but fathers don’t have to look like their children in order to father them. Castro and Justin share some very basic European features such as a pronounced nose and the ability to grow facial hair, and the article extrapolates that and runs wild with it.
To the article’s credit, there is no way for us to know completely whether Fidel Castro is Justin Trudeau’s father or not. We’ll never know which island the Trudeaus secretly honeymooned on. There will always be the possibility that it was a ploy to escape to Cuba rather than just two famous lovers wanting some privacy. Still, the article delves into far-right name-calling towards the end, with sentences like “Today we might remember Fidel Castro as an old man, but he was one of the most impressive people in the world back then, especially to fellow Marxists like the Trudeaus” (Leibowitcz, 2020). Just as I played my hand at the beginning of this article, author Karen Leibowitcz plays her hand at the end of hers. This whole time, the article was a right wing hit piece on Trudeau disguised as a political romance thriller. Maybe that’s a better conspiracy to write about.
“Clipping from The Ottawa Journal.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/clip/17430251/the-ottawa-journal/.
Leibowitcz, Karen. “Of Course Fidel Castro Is Justin Trudeau’s Dad. Nobody Has ‘Debunked’ Anything.” Medium, Medium, 19 July 2020, https://medium.com/@leibowitt/of-course-fidel-castro-is-justin-trudeaus-dad-nobody-has-debunked-anything-4db6fc8a9042
Shannen.bradley. “Swinging 60s – Capital of Cool.” HISTORY, 5 Sept. 2013, web.archive.org/web/20161106123349/www.history.co.uk/study-topics/history-of-london/swinging-60s-capital-of-cool.
“A Swinger for Prime Minister – CBC Archives.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, www.cbc.ca/archives/entry/a-swinger-for-prime-minister.