Sunday, April 06, 2008

On This Date In History...

Forty years ago today, Pierre Elliott Trudeau was the fourth ballot winner of the Liberal leadership. You can watch the victory clip in the CBC archives.

One of my first history essays I wrote in undergrad was on the 1968 convention and it was an absolutely fascinating leadership race to study up on. What was really remarkable was that there seemed to be both a certain inevitability for a Trudeau win but, at the same time, this was a guy who'd been pegged as a 75-1 long shot at the start of the campaign and who nobody knew a year beforehand. Had Pearson not promoted Trudeau to Justice when he did, had Jean Marchand spoken better English, had Trudeau not spared with Daniel Johnson publicly, had Mitchell Sharp not dropped out and endorsed him...well, history could have been a lot different.

I dug out my old essay and present a dozen tid-bits about the '68 campaign - some well known, some not so much:

1. When first asked if he was going to run following Pearson's resignation, Trudeau answered "are you serious?"

2. What really launched Trudeau's leadership was the perfectly timed Divorce Bill and criminal code changes he brought in as Justice Minister a few weeks before Pearson resigned. This legislation upset one Cabinet Minister who sarcastically suggested their slogan be: "For abortion, homosexuality and easy divorce - vote Liberal!"

3. In his memoirs, Paul Martin Sr. claimed that "like any good puppet-master (Pearson) was pulling the strings behind the scenes".

4. The '68 race marked the third failed attempt for Paul Senior at Liberal leadership. It would eventually take five tries before someone named Paul Martin finally won a leadership convention.

5. The always fun Quebec caucus nearly revolted against Trudeau in the days leading up to the vote and threatened to support Winters, until Jean Marchand quashed the revolt.

6. Trudeau only officially entered the race February 16th. Runner up Robert Winters didn't declare until March 1st. Compare that to the marathon the 2006 leadership race was.

7. Paul Hellyer paid $2,000 for the rights to use the Broadway song "hey now Dow Jones" as his theme at convention.

8. Trudeau got 26% of the media coverage during the campaign - second highest was Mitchell Sharp at 10%.

9. A live mic overheard Judy LaMarsh telling HellyerDon’t let that bastard win Paul...He isn’t even a Liberal” at the convention.

10. During his convention speech, John Turner said he wasn't running to help him win a hypothetical convention in 1984.

11. One of Mitchell Sharp's advisors, a young Jean Chretien, moved with Sharp to Trudeau on the Wednesday of convention week.

12. Lloyd Henderson was a fringe candidate in the race who got zero votes at convention, despite the fact that his wife was a voting delegate. So I guess, it retrospect, it could have been worse for Scott Brison in '06...

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15 Comments:

  • I did like Trudeau at the time.

    Later I matured and wised up a little.

    Did you recall how many of the team went to Cooba for a holiday and bent elbows with Castro?

    Castro, who welcomed four nuclear equipped Russian submarines to also join him?

    Castro who welcomed the construction of nuclear missile silos on Cooban soil?

    Kruschev had given the submarine skippers permission to launch nukes, but fortunately they were wiser than he was.

    As military electronic monitors, we experienced *white knuckles*, first hand at the time.

    Another *comrad* was / is Maurice Strong. Now secluded in China. Wasn*t he the main fraudster in the huge Oil for Food scandal?

    Questionable group, eh? = TG

    By Blogger TonyGuitar, at 2:36 AM  

  • Trudeau's ascension...Canada's decline *sigh*

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:07 AM  

  • I find an interesting parallel (if the only real one) with politics today in that the Québec caucus, as usual it would seem, needed to be brought into line to support one of its own - a formula which would prove to be a winning one for the party for Trudeau and, subsequently, Chrétien. It's now a good time for the opportunistic, backwards-minded fringe in Québec who wish to claim themselves as Liberals to review our history books and give Dion a chance. Of course, I mean no insult by this - I'm in Québec (and arguably a "quebecker" - whatever that's supposed to mean anymore) as we speak, following the party infighting and continued disarray with dismay and stupefaction.

    By Blogger Bronson Borst, at 12:14 PM  

  • and we have been paying for his crap ever since.

    His moral failure to stand up and defend against tyranny in WW2 should have been the first sign he wasn't fit to govern.

    Started off believing in Communism, morphed to a socialist, then to a Liberal where his political maturation ended and he never evolved into a Conservative.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:24 PM  

  • Anonymous: leaving aside for a moment your interesting idea that modern conservatism is the endpoint of human ideological evolution, Trudeau didn't start out as a Communist.

    Haven't you heard? He began political life as an ultramontanist clerical fascist in the mould of Lionel Groulx. His conversion to leftist politics came later.

    By Blogger saphorr, at 3:47 PM  

  • I hate Trudeau, I hate Rights and I hate Freedoms, damn you Charter!!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:23 PM  

  • "I hate Rights and I hate Freedoms"

    Hmmm! So, you're a communist?

    By Blogger JimTan, at 1:38 AM  

  • At least he was a leader, which is more than we can say about ...

    By Anonymous Blue Liberal, at 7:28 AM  

  • [What really launched Trudeau's leadership was the perfectly timed Divorce Bill and criminal code changes he brought in as Justice Minister a few weeks before Pearson resigned. This legislation upset one Cabinet Minister who sarcastically suggested their slogan be: "For abortion, homosexuality and easy divorce - vote Liberal!"]

    - Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose ;-)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:02 AM  

  • "It's now a good time for the opportunistic, backwards-minded fringe in Québec who wish to claim themselves as Liberals to review our history books and give Dion a chance."

    It's nice to see that the Liberals are back to being one big happy family. I sometimes wonder why the Quebec Wing even bothers. They tried to tell you that Dion was unelectable in Quebec. The polls show that Dion is unelectable in Quebec. And somehow it's all their fault the Liberals aren't positioned to win the next election?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:25 PM  

  • I would swear that that is Michael Ignatieff in the foreground with his back half turned.

    By Blogger Ted, at 4:39 PM  

  • According to Wikipedia, Ernst Zundel entered the race and dropped out. I had never heard of that before. Wow.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:29 PM  

  • The top comment in this thread may lead you to think I am very HARSH on the Liberal concept.

    Not so!

    Lester Pearson gave Canada much of the great quality we enjoy today. Trouble is Liberals felt so secure in their hold on power they dabbled in slush funds and the habit became a slippery slope into hundreds of scams. [Google Scamslist ]

    Understandable, human nature.

    If the public could see a careful step by step conversion back to careful and clearly honest policies for a renewed Liberal Party, then prospects would improve.

    Things like real protection for whistleblowers, individual departmental audit accounting and a number of ethics safeguards do make a difference to voters.

    The business of raising 16 and 17 year old scandals a la Karl Shreiber and loose ethnic comedy attempts on party-time video tapes does more harm to Liberals than to Conservatives.

    Bob Rae is coming along well. Once an NDP and now a Liberal. Better make him leader before he joins us conservatives.

    Heaven help us if the NDP become the opposition. = TG

    By Blogger TonyGuitar, at 12:54 AM  

  • Trudeau - Dion

    Great Leader - Great Abstainer

    Decisive - Indecisive

    Strong - Weak and vacillating

    1968-1984 - 2006-2008

    Left a legacy - Left a footnote

    By Anonymous blue liberal, at 11:08 PM  

  • By Blogger xjd7410@gmail.com, at 3:02 AM  

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