Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Trudeau revisited

I know that non boomers get tired of us boomers extolling the virtues of the 60's but really.... it was quite a time, especially 1968. By that time my life long addiction to the evening news was well established so I was swept up in the turbulent events of that spring. I'll never forget the morning of June 5th, (the day of my grade 10 final math exam) when my mother awoke me with the news that Bobby Kennedy had been shot, following his victory in the California primary. 

Bobby Kennedy 1968      

That was just two months after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis....another messenger of hope lost to his nation and the world. (A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to visit The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis's located at the Lorraine Motel where King was shot.)

In Canada however, we were still on a high, following the Centennial celebrations of the previous year, with Expo 67 in Montreal as the highlight. As well, we were experiencing a political happening unlike anything before...Trudeaumania! Women of all ages were crazy for Pierre! After he had been PM for a couple of years, my sister went on a school trip to Parliament Hill, accompanied by her history teacher, a nun who was...perhaps in her 50's? (Don't all teachers seem ancient to teens?) At any rate, when Trudeau appeared, the teacher vaulted across the lawn and threw herself at him! Such was the power of Pierre! 
Prime Minister Trudeau, on the cover of Time (Canada) Magazine, July 5, 1968
Photo: Duncan Cameron 
Library and Archives Canada 

One of the perks of living in Ottawa is having the chance to witness national events like Remembrance Day ceremonies  or  Canada Day festivities on Parliament Hill. If you're so inclined, you can cheer on the Queen or protest, as many of us did, when President Bush came to town. 

Anyhow......on the night of the federal Liberal leadership convention  (April 6,1968), my friend Jane and I went to the Ottawa Civic Centre after the formalities were over. There we scooped up posters and campaign buttons. Then we went to the Chateau Laurier Hotel to watch for celebs. My Trudeau poster hung over my bed for years. I wonder how many Canadian teens sleep with Stephen Harper posters in their bedrooms?

My 1968 bedroom

No, Pierre Trudeau was not perfect....I won't say that a Canadian, I was always proud to say that he was our Prime Minister.... an intelligent, well spoken representative of our country on the world stage.

So, this past Sunday night I couldn't help myself. Because I am a nostalgic fool I had to go downtown to the Liberal announcement event. My husband and I arrived at The Westin Hotel, wearing my 1968 Trudeau buttons.  Chretien and Rae addressed the enthusiastic crowd, before the results were announced.For a political junkie like myself it was a thrill to be  there.
Part of the excitement was to see many of the past leaders in the room. At one point we were standing close to Stephane Dion so I took the opportunity to speak to him . After the Conservatives crucified him so cruelly on TV, I  intended to write to him and thank him for his tell him that I was so impressed with his integrity, his decency. As my mother is fond of saying,"The way to hell is paved with good intentions." I never did write that letter. So, I was happy that I had an opportunity to meet him and to thank him in person.

                                          With Stephane Dion

There was a really positive feeling in the air, a feeling of a new beginning, of promise. There were certainly many young people in attendance so that is a good sign. With so many people swarming around Trudeau after his speech and as he entered the after was reminiscent of his father's days. So good luck to Justin Trudeau...perhaps he can lead us out of this misery that is the Harper government.

(The after party was held across the street from The Westin, at what used to be our train station...a great idea for a future blog...The city of Ottawa's 5 biggest mistakes...) 


  1. "I wonder how many Canadian teens sleep with Stephen Harper posters in their bedrooms?" - love it...I was just here serendipitously because I was looking for an inspiring PET pic. You having RFK on the same page hits my sweet spot - thank you.