When the Trudeaus hit the campaign trail together in 1974

The duties of a political spouse include shaking hands and vouching for the candidate's good character, and Margaret Trudeau turned out to be pretty good at it during the 1974 election campaign.

Prime minister's wife introduced her 'shy and modest' husband Pierre at Vancouver event

Margaret Trudeau was an asset in the 1974 campaign

49 years ago
Duration 1:56
The prime minister's wife engages with crowds and introduces her husband at an event ahead of the 1974 federal election.

The traditional duties of a political spouse include shaking hands and vouching for the candidate's good character. Margaret Trudeau turned out to be pretty good at both those things during the 1974 election campaign. 

"The days when the prime minister may have regarded his family as a private matter, divorced from politics, are clearly over," said CBC reporter Brian Stewart in June 1974.

Under Stewart's introduction, pictures showed Margaret, the wife of Pierre, shaking hands with members of a crowd in Vancouver. 

'Barnstorming asset'

Reporter with microphone
Reporter Brian Stewart concluded that Pierre and Margaret Trudeau had taken their "public lovefest to unheard-of heights." (CBC News/CBC Archives)

"Almost overnight, Mrs. Trudeau has changed from a rather retiring, aloof figure into a barnstorming asset to the Trudeau Express." 

The Trudeaus had been married for just over three years and had a baby, Sacha, and a toddler, Justin.

It wasn't Margaret Trudeau's first campaign: she had been by her husband's side shaking hands before the previous election, in the fall of 1972.

But she took on a bigger role for the 1974 campaign and, according to the Globe and Mail, "for the first time spoke at length from a stage."

Man and woman in swimsuits at outdoor pool
Margaret Trudeau, wife of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, tests the diving board during a break in the election campaign in Penticton, B.C., on June 13, 1974. (Russ Mant/Canadian Press)

"Often, he's thought of as being very arrogant," Mrs. Trudeau said, in a speech introducing her husband. "In my years of marriage to him I've never once seen him being arrogant."

In the same speech, not captured in this report, she said her husband was "a very loving human being ... who has taught me ... a lot about loving, which is something incredible."   

Rather than being arrogant, she concluded, Pierre Trudeau was "shy and modest" and "very, very kind."

She wound up the speech to thunderous applause by the Vancouver crowd.

"It's really my very, very great pleasure to introduce to you the man who's quite a beautiful guy," she said. 

Back at it in 2008

Woman and man walking down sidewalk
Liberal Justin Trudeau, candidate in the riding of Papineau, on the campaign trail in Montreal on Sept. 23, 2008 with his mother, Margaret. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

In the 2008 federal campaign, Margaret Trudeau was on familiar territory — this time with her son, Justin, who was running for a seat as an MP in the Montreal riding of Papineau.

But according to Justin's wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, his mother had played no role in her son's decision to enter politics.

"She told Justin, 'I will support you in every way but I don't encourage you to go into politics,'" Grégoire Trudeau told the Globe and Mail in 2008.

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