Some years ago, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was asked what his Liberal government planned to do in honor of the International Year of the Child.

"Nothing," was Trudeau’s curt reply, because, he reasoned, "it is not the government but parents that have children."

Since all Canadian citizens come into the world through parents, Trudeau’s cool attitude toward children could be logically extended to everyone. What, then, should be the concern of his government?

Trudeau’s political interest was not really in people, but in an ideology, one he borrowed from Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He repeatedly used Rousseau’s famous phrase — "une volonté générale" (the general will) — to promote the notion that Canada needed a will of its own. He took pride in introducing ("ramming through parliament," according to observers) abortion on demand into Canada, which turned out to be, in the words of William Gairdner, author of The War Against the Family, "Canada’s first experience with a kind of political and moral dictatorship to which the people would soon become accustomed."

This affection for ideology and dictatorship has apparently been bequeathed to Trudeau’s son, Justin. The young Liberal leader told reporters May 7 that anyone running for the Liberal Party in the next election "will be resolutely pro-choice."

"I have made it clear," he stated, "that future candidates need to be completely understanding that they will be expected to vote pro-choice on any bills" (Toronto Star, May 8). In his own quest for a uniform general will, he has excluded the choice to be pro-life, diversity of opinion, pluralism, conscience and healthy debate concerning the nature and rights of the unborn, along with what the sciences of embryology and fetology have to say concerning the life of the unborn.

"My preference is that we not be engaging in the discussion of abortion," he added, "For me, it’s a debate that has been settled for the vast majority of Canadians, and we don’t need to reopen that issue."

He mouthed these words at the very moment pro-life advocates were organizing another massive rally that would take place the next day in front of Ottawa’s parliament building.

The debate has not been settled — it is being suppressed. Political blather cannot keep reality at bay.

Canadian psychiatrist Tom Verny was shunned by his own medical colleagues after the publication of his book The Secret Life of the Unborn Child. As a result of several years of extensive scientific research, Verny made the following recommendation: "Unborn children should be treated as though the mother carried a little person inside, to be talked to, cherished and protected from malignant outside influences."

He confessed that his deepest regret is that his sons were born too soon to benefit from what research now reveals concerning the importance of prenatal bonding and the birth experience. Can such scientific research on the unborn stand up under a Trudeau political dictatorship any better than certain genetic findings fared under Stalin?

The great Soviet critic of socialism, Igor Schafarevich, stated in his book The Socialist Phenomenon that the three components of the socialist ideal — the abolition of private property, the abolition of the family and socialist equality — can be deduced from a single principle: the suppression of individuality.

How does one function as a citizen when the government discourages thought, disrespects conscience, perverts the meaning of choice and marginalizes all those who are committed to defend life at any stage and to work to safeguard the health of pregnant women?

In a dictatorship, individuality is suppressed for the sake of "the general will" (Rousseau) or the "collective" (Stalin).

The trenchant words of Jacques Maritain in Man and the State are worth reiterating: "The human person as an individual is for the body politic, and the body politic is for the human person as a person. But man is by no means for the state. The state is for man."

Justin Trudeau wants to invert the social order and, by denying personal individuality, turn man into a slave for the state. The fact that Justin Trudeau has already garnered significant political support bodes ill for all Canadians. The cornerstone of civilization cannot be abortion on demand and the suppression of the individual person.

Donald DeMarco is a senior fellow of Human Life International.

He is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Canada,

and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut.