ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Reading: Sara Borins, Trudeau Albums, Toronto, ON: Otherwise Inc. Editions, Penguin Group, 2000: a Review

Updated on May 5, 2014
Pierre Elliott Trudeau in 1980
Pierre Elliott Trudeau in 1980 | Source

The projection of image and the nature of Canadian reality

Sara Borins, Trudeau Albums , Toronto, ON: Otherwise Inc. Editions, Penguin Group, 2000

...

This engaging work, which, together with essays, is basically an annotated pictorial biography of the life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, published shortly before the death of the book's subject.

Yes, it is absorbing, and although I was already familiar with many of the photos presented in the book, there were many others with which I was not, some of them being vivid and insightful.

One gets a sense of continuity in the life of this, one of Canada's most historically unavoidable political characters. Pierre Elliott Trudeau's seemingly dramatic entry into Parliament in 1965 with Jean Marchand and Gérard Pelletier, to whom he was at first ostensibly the junior partner, seemingly masks a personal continuity of interest and involvement in public issues, which remained remarkably consistent over decades. To sum up his basic viewpoint: Canada is one country, and all parts of Canada can and should strive together for certain civic values.

The overall editor of the work is Sara Borins, although the work is collaborative. With its depictions and descriptions of Trudeaumania from 1968, some of the various presenters of the material suggest that Pierre Elliott Trudeau possessed a unique, enigmatic charm (whatever this means)(1).

Do I think so, too?

In a word, no. But since, such as it is, my impression from afar of Pierre Trudeau is of a typical, bilingual professional from Montreal, then, given his background as a civil servant in the Privy Council Office and later as a university professor of law, his personal formation seems to have assisted him in becoming in some ways ideally placed to grapple with the various public affairs of a bilingual and diverse country such as Canada.

In fact, the sooner that some Canadians recognize what Montreal, as a great, bilingual city, is — indeed, what the benefits of bilingualism can be —, then the more likely that much of the legacy of Pierre Elliott Trudeau will be permanently valued. (As should also be the case with other, Montreal-area makers and keepers of Confederation, such as Sir George-Etienne Cartier and Sir Wilfrid Laurier.)

Whether or not this will actually happen is another matter; but Trudeau's basic good faith and constitutionalism which underlay his sometimes superficially Quixotic and abrasive style are part of all that is good about Canada. Who am I to define Canadian patriotism? but, anyway, to me Trudeau represents a kind of conservative, patriotic constitutionalism.

In one of the essays, J L Granatstein claims that Pierre Elliott Trudeau was disingenuous when he claimed not to have been interested in the public affairs of the day during World War Two. Whether or not there is an element of truth to this, I have yet to find an Anglophone Canadian historian — with the possible exception of John English — who puts into a fairly full context many Québécois' business-as-usual attitudes towards the repellant Vichy-France government. The fact was that, less than 75 kilometres south of Montreal, the United States's policy was initially to maintain diplomatic relations with Vichy-France as the legal government, and even to prosecute Americans volunteer pilots flying for the British Royal Air Force.

In another essay, Peter Gzowski misspells some of Pierre Trudeau's oft-quoted rude words in French; on whether this is by accident or euphemistic design, I will keep my counsel.

Another idea which comes over from the book is that, as the life of Trudeau experienced, radically decentralizing tendencies in both Quebec and Alberta have the effect of feeding on one another.

The typeface of the captions to some of the photographs is very small and one wonders whether all readers whose eyes date from the Trudeau era (!) will find it adequate.

Anyway, in politics there is always likely to be at least a creative conflict between the projection of an image and the nature of a country's realities (the ghost of Diefenbaker stirs restlessly...). I certainly appreciated the book (but please spare us the charmer stuff...)

January 25, 2013

Note

(1) One of the essayists — a former supporter — even seems to continue to claim that Pierre Trudeau somehow betrayed his charisma by his robust response to the FLQ Crisis in 1970, given the fact that after 30 years she still had never voted Liberal again.

MJFenn is an independent writer based in Ontario, Canada.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)