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The many lives of Pierre Trudeau

The Story

Will Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau one day run for the top job of prime minister? "Hell no," he responds with a shrug and a laugh in this CBC Television feature. At 44, Trudeau is a rising star on the Canadian political scene, stirring up both controversy and admiration wherever he travels. Unlike any of his contemporaries, Trudeau has made Canadians curious for more. Precisely who, they wonder, is this charismatic and cocky bon vivant? In this interview, Trudeau tells thrilling tales of his globetrotting youth and explains how his travels uniquely shaped his point of view. He lightly defends his rebel brand of politics and bemusedly addresses questions about his perpetual bachelor status. Doing backflips off a diving board, driving in his sexy sports car and walking the hurried streets of Montreal - this is Pierre Trudeau. 

Medium: Television
Program: Newsmagazine
Broadcast Date: May 16, 1967
Guest: Pierre Elliott Trudeau
Host: Norman DePoe
Duration: 26:14

Did You know?

• Trudeau was struck with wanderlust at an early age and wrote about it in a high school essay. He recalled in his memoirs, "I wanted to know everything and experience everything in every realm." He also described, "Maybe the essay even envisaged that some day, at the end of my life, I might become an important figure such as a governor general or a prime minister. But first, I would have explored the world."

• True to his ambitions, Trudeau travelled widely throughout Canada, the United States, the Middle East, Asia and Europe.

• Trudeau first entered politics when he won a seat in Parliament for the Liberals during the 1965 national election. Sixteen months later, in April 1967, he was promoted from being Prime Minister Pearson's personal secretary to minister of justice.

• Of the cabinet shuffle, the Globe and Mail reported, "The main interest centres on Mr. Trudeau, a colourful, freethinking intellectual whose taste for sandals, bright shirts and casual ascots will bring a new look to the Justice Department." (April 5, 1967)
• Canadians were intrigued by the cool and articulate politician. Trudeau was a natural in front of the camera, a major factor in his meteoric political success. This particular TV interview was described as "spectacular, dazzling and impressive." (The New Yorker, 1967)

• Optics aside, Trudeau did invigorate the national debate with his first important piece of legislation, the controversial Omnibus Bill.
• The Omnibus Bill was introduced on Dec. 21, 1967. The bill appealed for changes in the criminal code with regard to issues of homosexuality, abortion and divorce law.

• In an editorial, the Globe and Mail praised, "Mr. Trudeau (doubtless it will go down as his bill) has done what we had hoped he would have the courage to do. He has dared to grapple publicly with the total issues of liberty: that formerly treacherous no man's land between private and public moralities."

• A few days before the bill was passed, Prime Minister Lester Pearson announced his plan to retire. On Feb. 16, 1968, Trudeau declared his candidacy in the leadership race.


Pierre Elliott Trudeau: Philosopher and Prime Minister more