Pushed to the Left and Loving It: When is a Dynasty Not a Dynasty?

There has been much talk during this election campaign, about Justin Trudeau’s famous father, and a notion that he believes that becoming prime minister is his birthright.  There were similar attacks on Michael Ignatieff, because he descended from Russian royalty on his father’s side and the famous Grant family of Canada on his mother’s.

Apparently being born into prominent families means that you cannot possibly lead this country.  You’re an “elite” and “out of touch”.

However, has anyone addressed the political dynasty of Thomas Mulcair?  He likes to portray himself as just a regular guy, one of ten children, in a family struggling to get by.    However, the reality is much different.  
Before pretending to be “middle class”, he loved reminding people that he was a descendant of Honore Mercier, a former premier of Quebec. (1)

He was right.  He is a descendant of the ninth premier, but the lineage goes much further and family connections, run much deeper.  

His mother was the daughter of Pierre Hurtubise and Jeanne Mercier.  Jeanne Mercier was the daughter of Paul-Emile Mercier and Marie-Louise Tache.  Paul-Emile Mercier was the son of Premier Honore Mercier and his second wife, Virginie St. Denis.

These are the things named after Honore Mercier:

-The Mercier Bridge that links the western part of the Island of Montreal with the South Shore;
– The town of Mercier, Quebec;
– Avenue Mercier, located in downtown Shawinigan, Quebec, Canada;
– The provincial electoral district of Mercier.
– The Mercier neighbourhood in Montreal.
– An elementary school named Honoré-Mercier in Montreal
– A high school named Honoré-Mercier in Montreal
– A hospital in Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec is named Hôpital Honoré-Mercier.
– Honoré Mercier Boulevard, located in the Quebec city center.

He also had a son Honore, who was the godfather of Tom Mulcair’s mother; a cabinet minister and multi-term MNA in the Quebec Assembly.  His son followed suit.
A daughter of Honore’s, Eliza Mercier, married Sir Jean Lomer Gouin, who became the 13th premier of Quebec and 15th Lietenant Governor. He also served as Justice Minister under William Lyon MacKenzie King.

He had these things named after him:

– Gouin Boulevard, the longest street on the Island of Montreal;
– Gouin Reservoir (In French: Réservoir Gouin), a man made collection of lakes in the center of the province of Quebec;
– Rue Gouin (Gouin Street) and Place Gouin, located in Shawinigan, Quebec, Canada;
– Rue Gouin (Gouin Street), located in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada;- The provincial district of Gouin;
– Lomer-Gouin, intra-provincial ferry services between Levis to Quebec City operate by Société des traversiers du Québec.

Sir Jean and Eliza had a son Paul who would also join the Quebec Liberal Party before leaving and forming his own.  Mulcair also belongs to the Chaveau line, making him a great-great-great-grandson of Pierre-Joseph-Olivier Chauveau, the 1st Premier of Quebec.

The list goes on.  He was a member of the Quebec elite and as such had many doors opened for him, and he expected them to be.  One of his mentors, and a person who had a great deal to do with advancing Mulcair’s career, was Claude Ryan, former director of Le Devoir newspaper, and head of the Quebec Liberals.  He also knew how to use the press to his advantage.  Apparently, it was Ryan who got Thomas Mulcair his position with the Quebec Justice Department.

Thomas Mulcair did not come from humble beginnings.  Politics were in his DNA, along with a sense of privilege  Below is a screen shot of a story that appeared in The Daily in 2005, describing the experience of a stakeholder who had requested a meeting with Mulcair, when he was Minister of Environment.  He speaks of Mulcair’s arrogance, demanding a clean limo and his continued sense of superiority.

When you watch those videos of Mulcair promoting private healthcare or espousing the virtues of Margaret Thatcher, he does not come off the smiling grandfather, but as someone  who clearly feels above his listeners.  Reading transcripts of debates in the NA, you also get that sense.  He was the closest thing to noble birth that you can get in this country, and he wanted to make sure that you never forgot that.

So when is a dynasty, a dynasty?  I guess only when it’s linked to a Liberal leader. 

1. Community Besieged: The Anglophone Minority and the Politics of Quebec, By Garth Stevenson,  1999, Mcgill-Queens University Press, 0773518398

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