For seven years now, a popular rumor floating around parts of the internet is that Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, is actually the son of Fidel Castro, the old communist leader of Cuba.
The conspiracy theory is based on two flimsy pieces of evidence: Trudeau sort of looks like Castro at the same age, and there are images and videos of Trudeau’s mother Margaret standing near Castro during a 1976 visit to the country.
The fact that there’s footage of Fidel holding Justin’s younger infant brother Michel—who is often falsely credited as being baby Justin—is also thrown onto the pile of supposed evidence.
But while some conspiracy theories are difficult to debunk, this one is refreshingly easy. It falls apart the moment you remember that Justin Trudeau was born in 1971, long before his parents’ first-ever visit to Cuba in 1976.
The baby in the photo is clearly Michel Trudeau, born in 1975, and whose age would’ve matched up perfectly with the infant in the picture.
The other smoking gun conspiracy theorists point to is one of the newlywed Trudeaus’ vacations.
Pierre Trudeau, who was elected prime minister of Canada in 1968 and would go on to lead the country (representing the Liberal Party) for nearly sixteen years, took his wife Margaret on a second honeymoon to the Caribbean in April 1971, just a month after their wedding.
They went to a bunch of Caribbean islands during this time, including a “quick sidetrip to an unidentified nearby island,” which some speculate to be Cuba. What sounds more likely: that the Trudeaus went to another island and simply didn’t tell the press about every exact location they visited for the sake of privacy during their honeymoon, or that Pierre Trudeau briefly put his honeymoon on hold so that his wife could sneak in a quickie with a controversial communist leader of a country they’d never been to?
Who thinks Justin Trudeau is Fidel Castro’s son?
One conspiracy theorist, Karen Leibowitcz, believes the latter explanation is far more likely.
“Come on,” she wrote on Medium, pointing out that Justin was born eight-and-a-half months after the honeymoon. She makes an unsourced claim that “rumors” were spreading at the time that “Pierre was infertile,” which seems unlikely; although Leibowitcz paints a picture of Pierre being seen by the public as an older man who’s lost his virility, Pierre was described as “exuberantly boyish” and often compared in demeanor to JFK by the press.
The idea that Pierre would be seriously bothered by these (uncited) rumors mere weeks into his marriage is hard to believe. And as much as conspiracy theorists like to point out that Justin doesn’t look much like his father, the fact that Pierre’s other two sons (Alexandre and Michel) clearly resemble him indicates that infertility was never a real issue.
Nevertheless, Leibowitcz implies that the Trudeaus were in a rush to stave off these infertility rumors, so they decided to have another man impregnate Margaret to get the heat off them. Who did they figure would be the perfect guy for the task? Fidel Castro, of course.
Leibowitcz then sounded the alarms on the observation on news segments that, in the Trudeaus’ 1976 meeting with Castro, they showed an “unusual amount of familiarity with Fidel, considering he was a national leader they just allegedly met.”
However, politicians always put on a friendly show for the cameras in events like these, regardless of what’s going on behind the scenes.
So, is it technically possible that the Trudeaus arranged a secret meeting in the middle of their honeymoon in 1971 to pull this trickery off? Maybe, but it’s so ludicrously unlikely that the claim is not worth taking seriously.
The birth of the rumor came shortly after Castro’s death in 2016 when Justin Trudeau released a statement that wasn’t as critical as conservatives hoped.
One of the first-ever versions of the theory was posted on the subreddit r/TheDonald in the midst of that round of right-wing backlash: The post relied on rock-solid evidence like “[Margaret]’s a f**king hoe,” that Pierre was “a globalist cuck,” and on a misreading of an old Globe and Mail article. The article explained how Castro and Trudeau had talked over the phone, but the r/TheDonald users misinterpreted this as claiming the figures met in person.
Since none of the details actually add up at all, it’s clear the theory is just a thinly veiled excuse to accuse Justin Trudeau of being a communist.
“Certainly explains why [Trudeau] wants to turn Canada into a marxist dump,” reads the top comment on Karen Leibowitcz’s post.
Although none of Trudeau’s policies throughout his tenure as prime minister have come particularly close to Marxism or communism, it’s nevertheless a time-honored tradition for those on the far right to accuse standard liberals of both of those things. With Castro being one of the most prominent communists of the 20th century, and a womanizer to boot, it was only a matter of time before a conspiracy theory like this took hold.