Trudeau: The Politics of My WayUnlike the United States, with its generalissimo politics-Washington,Jackson, Grant, Eisehower- the martial arts have been conspicuously absent fromCanadian politics. But there in one exception: in 1968 Pierre Elliot Trudeaubecame the first Canadian leader to bring the gunslinger-Lone Ranger ethos toCanadian politics.
Trudeau introduced to Canada the refined art of single combat; it was thepolitics of “Doing It My Way”-the politics of going my way or being left behind.
Single-combat confrontation implied much mor than the loner or renegade in power,and far far less than the shaman black tricks of Mackenzie King. Trudeau wasalways far more the solo Philosopher King engaged in intellectual trial bycombat than the Magus Merlin conjuring up solutions by puffs of smoke, sleightof hand or divine intervention. Ouijaboard politics was the occult domain ofMackenzie King, a man virtually devoid of policy, a political palm readerforever checking the whims and moods of his powerful baronial-Ralston Howe, St.
Laurent-and sometimes Byronian colleagues to see how best he could placate them,or calm them, or Heap his beatitudes upon them.
Trudeau, from day one , was always more samurai than shaman. Even in hispre-leadership days, Trudeau’s love of trial by combat was predominant.
Mackenzie King would have never touched the unholy trinity of divorce, abortionand homosexuality: each one of these issues is a sleeping dog best left to lie;each could only infuriate conservative Canada from coast to coast. Since Kingdared not touch them seriatim he certainly would not have touched them together-in an omnibus bill.
This, Trudeau did joyously. The myths-makers have it at this wasTrudeau’s first deliberated joust, the kingship being the final prize. ButTrudeau had no leadership aspirations at the time; all that he had, still has,was the love of combat for the sake of combat and religious scruples be damned.
Trudeau the Catholic zealot tackle divorce, abortion and homosexuality activePrime Minister in this country’s history, liberated the homosexual practitionersof black acts totally abhorrent to him; ironically, in the process, Trudeau gaveirrational Canada a pretext for branding him a homosexual too.
P.E.T. has always hated the consensus building of Mackenzie King; even thepopulist following of a Diefenbaker was an anathema to Trudeau. The single-combat warrior “doing it my way” is always alone; he leads the people but is notof them; like the prophet he wanders either in dessert or lush green pasturesand often, like the prophet, he watches his people march into the Promised Landwithout him. For Trudeau, being alone is to be free; victory is a consequenceof solitude; companionship an act of weakness, cronyism even wise.
It is ironic that Trudeau, a devout Jansenist Roman Catholic, emotionallyand philosophically opposed to both divorce and abortion, should grant Canadiansgreatly expanded divorce rights and their first right to legale abortion.
Trudeau took the unholy trinity then disturbing the bedrooms of the nationbecause all three were trial combat, all three required one strong man to pushthem through. In this minefield Canada’s political loner had walked alone andapparently loved it.
Canada’s other solo flyer, John Diefenbaker, may or may not have been arenegade in power, but the input his holitics received from Senate cronies andKitchen cabinets was enormous. The letters and advice that daily poured in tothe chief were a populist input that Diefenbaker slavishly adhered to. Trudeauwas no Diefenbaker; he was neither a populist nor a renegade. Trudeau wassimply a man who brilliantly massaged and manipulated others so that his singlewill appeared to be the will of many, so that his will be always done.
The theme of my-way politics sheds much light on the vrai Trudeau, theTrudeau that is, rather than the Trudeau people think there is. Trudeau hasnever been the privacy-demanding recluse, the reluctant leader that herdsmen ofCanadian journalism insist he is.
In secular life Trudeau is no trinitarian; he has chosen his onenessbecause, from the earliest politics, oneness worked for him so spectacular.
Trudeau’s personal handling of the constriction crisis was a “my way” all theway. Trudeau, the self-proclaimed socialist prophet of his people, waxed everso eloquently against the sins of conscription, and yet Trudeau seemingly couldnot see in War measures that potential greater evil of a Canadian fascism thatsurly meant permanent conscription and enslavement of all. Equally puzzling isthe referral of Trudeau’s nationalist compatriots and colleagues in the yearssince to give him any credit for fighting in 1942 a good nationalist fight onbehalf of the anti-conscription, quasi-separatist candidacy of Jean Drapeau; notso puzzling in the refusal of Angelo Saxon patriots to give Trudeau any creditat all for joining a reserve regiment before the war. There was both a typicalTrudeau “a plague on both your houses” in all this, and even more of thegunslinger spraying bullets on both side of the saloon bar.
The style of the lone gunslinger was already apperant in Trudeau’s earlyradical posture. Cite libre was a radical editorial collective run completelyby Trudeau. Trudeau the then internationalist and socialist shared ideologicalbed and board with David Lewis, Frank Scott, Eugene Forsey and Theresa Casgrain,but only Trudeau’s CCF and NDP membership cards mysteriously do not exist today.
Even that minor bit of collectivist discipline, the proud possession of a partycard, was abhorrent to the free-wheeling independent Trudeau.
The ideologically committed gunslinger found little in the democraticprocess to nourish him. The social democratic Trudeau first entered theelectoral lists only only in the safest Liberal seat in the country. Trudeauknew that group dynamic, group participation, in not ideologically andpolitically effective as when the few shape the many.
This single-warrior syndrome explains many shifts and patterns in theTrudeau character. Diefenbaker revelled in the democratic panorama; Diefenbakerfailed to keep urban Canada aboard his carousel and never really got frenchCanada aboard in the first place, but the Chief’s strengths and weakness flowedfrom the ordinary people who loved him and the sophisticates and big city peoplewho hated him. P.E.T. never did deal in democratic norms; instead, the elitistTrudeau gave Quebec’s elitists the first crack at the bilingual club andtransformed the federal bureaucracy, at least on its highest levels, to be abilingual workplace in which the frankphone would be supreme.
INTROCanada, and its record of careful middle-of-the-road politics has producedleaders who were careful and middle-of-the-road as well, until 1968 when Canadaand the world was introduced to Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau.
He had walked and cycled through Europe, and been on the wrong side of thebars in foreign jails. Not your average guy. Not your average Prime Minister.
The future Prime Minister was the second child and the elder son of thefamily. He was born on October 18th, 1919. At a very young age Trudeau was thecurrent, attacking authority and not giving a “DAMN” for the public opinion.
In 1940 Prime Minister Trudeau entered the law faculty at the Universityof Montreal. He says that he hesitated between law ; psychology, but had tosettle for law since Montreal didn’t offer psychology and the war kept him inCanada.
As a student he enlisted in the Canadian officers Training Corps. He wasgiven a commission on a lieutenant, a rank he held until his retirement in 1947.
LIFEJoseph Philippe Pierre Elliote Trudeau to say his names in order was bornan October 18, 1919. Pierre wasn’t the sort of person that you think wouldbecome one of Canada’s longest in office Prime Ministers.
At home Pierre’s mother spoke mainly English, although she was fluent infrench. His mother provided the English balance. Charles-Emily Pierre’sfather taught him sports as Pierre was very good at them. Pierre practised theart of KARATE and soon became a brown belt, one below black belt. He also knewhow to skin dive and could descend 150 feet off a cliff and come out without ascratch. Other than teaching Pierre sports, Charles-Emile also put together afranchise of gas stations that grew to include 15,000 members and filling$1,400,000 for his stations.
As a boy, living in Montreal, he favoured the English instead of theFrench and when his friends were unhappy of the French losing, Pierre wascelebrating. Many of his teachers in primary school said that Pierre was aheadstrong individualist who involved himself frequently in fights and practicaljokes. In 1924 or 1925 Charles-Emily, Pierre father died, and Pierre was onlyfourteen years old at the time. Since his parents were so rich he got driven toschool by a chauffeur and ran with a crowd called LES SNOBS. As a studentPierre joined the COTC, Canadian Officers Training Corps. Pierre lack of selfdiscipline got him into trouble a lot and he was soon kicked out of the COTC.
Pierre didn’t always get into trouble actually as he was a very smart kid andone of his teachers commented that Pierre was a pupil who was good at everysubject. In 1940 Pierre entered the law faculty at the University of Montreal.