Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Volume 2: 1968-2000
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This magnificent second volume, written with exclusive access to Trudeau’s private papers and letters, completes what the Globe and Mail called “the most illuminating Trudeau portrait yet written” — sweeping us from sixties’ Trudeaumania to his final days when he debated his faith.
His life is one of Canada’s most engrossing stories. John English reveals how for Trudeau style was as important as substance, and how the controversial public figure intertwined with the charismatic private man and committed father. He traces Trudeau’s deep friendships (with women especially, many of them talented artists, like Barbra Streisand) and bitter enmities; his marriage and family tragedy. He illuminates his strengths and weaknesses — from Trudeaumania to political disenchantment, from his electrifying response to the kidnappings during the October Crisis, to his all-important patriation of the Canadian Constitution, and his evolution to influential elder statesman.
Take it from me. Every Toronto minister has had it! They’re gone! ” As the plane landed, he introduced himself: “I’m Simon Reisman. ”6 Some doubt the anecdote’s accuracy, but it conveys the increasing suspicion surrounding the Finance Department and Reisman’s growing anger directed against Trudeau and his office. During the election campaign, Conservative leader Stanfield attacked Reisman and, more particularly, the department, blaming Finance for the rampant inflation of the time. This widespread distrust of Finance and, to a lesser extent, the Bank of Canada had developed during the first Trudeau government, when their policies appeared to have created the economic problems that hurt the government in the 1972 election.
Later Pelletier indicated that “Trudeau jumped too quickly on the story of the parallel Cabinet” and Lalonde was of the same mind, but while accepting the influence of “the story” on events, Lalonde emphasized the great uncertainty of the moment and the clear evidence of “deterioration. ” In his excellent biography of Jacques Parizeau, then the recent PQ convert who was serving as president of the executive council of the party, Pierre Duchesne describes the mood of PQ leaders after the assassination of Laporte.
The twelve guests divided evenly on support or opposition to the government’s actions, but there was a peculiar tension in the air. The RCMP officers checked Ken McNaught’s parcel of Dinky Toys for Cook’s kids as though the eminent historian had brought a bomb. Trudeau stayed into the early morning, jousting with the others, clearly annoyed and disappointed with the conversation. Eli Mandel, the professor-bard from York University, later wrote a poem about the evening that captured some of its ambiguities: if the revolution was about to occur would the people of Quebec rise up the people of Quebec would rise up therefore the revolution was about to occur wrong again Cook, too, was ambivalent, trusting Trudeau but listening to his critics’ complaints.
A startled Trudeau replied, “Let’s take it easy,” but Margaret jumped into the lake and swam around in circles “like a frenzied dolphin. ” When she finally emerged from the water, Pierre set out some conditions: she should be “a good faithful wife to him, give up drugs, and stop being so flighty. ” He warned her that he was fifty years old and “extremely solitary by nature. ” Trudeau was troubled. Had he gone too far? As Margaret wrote later: “This period was the closest I ever came to seeing Pierre out of full control in all our time together.
Marc Lalonde accompanied him in his limousine, and engulfed in files, they worked all the way through the drive. At the airport, Lalonde asked Trudeau, “What are you doing for the weekend? ” “I’m getting married,” Trudeau replied without hesitation and sprinted to the plane. 37* The wedding day was cool and clear in Vancouver, but the atmosphere in the Sinclair home was feverish. The best-laid plans for a secret ceremony were going awry. Margaret’s hairdresser had influenza, and his replacement had styled her hair to look like a “fuzzy poodle.