When Pierre Trudeau snubbed B.C. Liberals to go dancing
Opposition leader said he had a bad cold but was spotted at a New York disco
The Leader of the Opposition said one thing. A newspaper photo told quite a different story.
"Trudeau had told party officials that he had a cold last weekend, and that he was far too ill to attend a meeting of British Columbia Liberals," said Knowlton Nash, host of CBC's The National, on Nov. 14, 1979.
Turned out Pierre Trudeau had disco fever.
As the CBC's Mike Duffy reported, Trudeau's invented illness emerged when Canadian newspapers published a photograph of him at what was described as "a New York disco."
A night at Club Ibis
A Liberal Party policy conference had been scheduled in Vancouver, but Trudeau opted out due to illness.
After the photo made it clear that Trudeau had the disco bug, not a real malady, some B.C. Liberals were said to be upset.
"Yes, people in British Columbia were insulted," said Vancouver Centre MP Art Philips, in the hallway of a building on Parliament Hill. "I was. So were they."
According to the Globe and Mail, a photographer had captured the "hearty-looking" Trudeau on Sunday, Nov. 11, at New York City's Club Ibis, "holding hands with a glamorous woman identified only as Linda."
Trudeau and his wife, Margaret, had been separated since March 1977.
At work three days later, Trudeau denied that he had annoyed any B.C. Liberals.
"Oh no, they're not crazy," he said, when Duffy asked if "they were upset in B.C."
In the House of Commons that day, NDP Leader Ed Broadbent poked fun at Trudeau's gambit.
"Noting that the Leader of the Official Opposition has used New York disco dancing as a method of curing a bad cold," he asked that the House instruct the Minister of Finance to find out if "such dancing acts" could be ruled a medical expense.
But Duffy said Trudeau's disco visit had suggested something significant.
"It's seen by the public and by the party as another indication that Pierre Trudeau is not really interested in staying on for the long haul." he said.
One week later, Trudeau made that official, announcing that he was stepping down as Liberal leader.