A V I E W F R O M C H A R L O T T E T O W N , P R I N C E E D W A R D I S L A N D
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No one of my generation has viewed the last few days without the emotion of memory playing on their hearts and minds. Long before I had even begun to wonder who would take the place of Lester Pearson, my mother and her friends had already made up their minds. Trudeaumania hit them early.
It was true my mother was a dyed-in-the-wool Liberal, daughter of a Liberal MLA from 2nd Prince and, no doubt what she took very seriously, was Trudeau's French-Scottish background like her own. I didn't spend enough time then wondering just how deeply she reviewed his policies, but it was obvious that he struck a cord with her early and that has caused me to ponder - about my mother and the rest of we Canadians as I heard his life gone over and over in the past few days.
I think he said it himself: men who want very badly to lead a country should not be trusted. Mother would have liked that. And she would have liked his honesty and his joyfulness and his human exasperations. What I respected and envied was the base from which he formed his opinions. Classical education, a deep understanding of history and a belief that you don't "watch what direction the people are going and then go out and lead". It's called leadership. And "he lived under his own hat", as Lucy Maud Montgomery challenged us to do.
I met him, or at least was in his company a number of times. The first time I was introduced to him was by Alex Campbell in the halls of Province House. I remember his eyes. Another time was at Government House, arriving late because he was diving off a boat at Dalvay. Two other special events come to mind. I, for a time, served on the Visiting Committee of the National Gallery. The first meeting I attended was in November 1968 and that evening was the opening of the Jordaens Exhibition. Prime Minister Trudeau officially opened that exhibition. It was a grand event. Jean Boggs, the director of the gallery at the time, had been at Harvard with Trudeau so it was a fine celebration for her to have him. It was less than a year later that Alf and I represented the Confederation Centre at the opening of the National Art Centre and there he was again this time with Carleton Professor Madeleine Gobeil. The arts were well served by the man. It was under his regime that Secretary of State Pelletier brought in the Museums 70's Policies. [ I'll write about that some day soon. It has been on my mind lately] And who will forget the day of Danny Dan MacDonald, the Minister of Veterans Affairs' funeral when Mr Trudeau escorted Pauline out of the Basilica. Trudeau liked Danny Dan.
I have a very soft spot for people who give time to serve in the political world ... the giving of self for the common good. It is hard and ones privacy has to be protected somehow. Trudeau did that with class and it seemed with a lot of impatience. The accolades that we heard this week should remind us that the press does not always paint the real man. Thank goodness. It was a time of wine and roses. And as Justin said "It's all up to us, all of us, now."
Photographs (top to bottom): Karsh portrait; Time Canada cover; with Jack MacAndrew and Alex Campell; dancing with Prof. Madeleine Gobell; Time Canada cover; with Dr. Jean Sutherland Boggs at the National Gallery Jordeans opening, 1968; with Danny Dan MacDonald; Time Canada cartoon.