Transcript: Christina McCall and Stephen Clarkson on Pierre Trudeau. | Nov 01, 1994

Allan is in his mid fifties and has light brown hair, and a greying goatee. He wears
a black and grey tweed blazer and a khaki coloured button up shirt.

He sits in a restaurant with Christina and Stephen. On the table there are two cups of
tea and two saucers, a basket of bread and glasses.

Allan says TEN YEARS AFTER
HIS DEPARTURE,
WE'RE STILL FIXATED
ON PIERRE TRUDEAU.
IN MANY WAYS, HE JUST
SEEMS UN-CANADIAN.
HE'S A LEADER
LIKE NONE OTHER.
EVEN STYLISTICALLY, WE
FANCY OURSELVES AS CANADIANS
AS VERY SELF-EFFACING,
OBVIOUSLY, EVEN DEFERENTIAL,
YET THE LEGACY OF TRUDEAU IS
OF ARROGANCE AND DEFIANCE.
YOU GOT HIM IN HIS
GUNSLINGER POSE.
WHERE'S THE APPEAL
THERE, CHRISTINA?

Christina says I THINK IT DOES PLAY AGAINST
OUR NATIONAL CHARACTER,
SO HE CAPTURES
OUR IMAGINATION.
BUT I ALSO THINK HE'S
ENORMOUSLY ATTRACTIVE
TO IMMIGRANT CANADIANS.

Allan says AS A STRONG LEADER?

Christina says WELL, I MET A CHILEAN WOMAN
THE OTHER DAY IN A STUDIO,
AND SHE JUST LOVED
HEARING ABOUT HIM.
AND SHE SAID, HE'S
SO UN-CANADIAN.
HE'S LATIN.
AND THERE IS THAT
VIVACITY AND FIERTE.

Allan says SO EVEN THE PEOPLE
THAT DON'T LIKE HIM
ARE FIXATED ON TRUDEAU.
AS I SAY, IT'S BEEN A DECADE
SINCE HE'S BEEN AROUND.
YET HE STILL IS THE
TOPIC OF A CONVERSATION.
YOUR BOOK, WE GUARANTEE,
WILL GO RIGHT TO THE TOP
OF THE BESTSELLER LIST.
PEOPLE STILL WANT
TO HEAR ABOUT,
STILL WANT TO KNOW
ABOUT PIERRE TRUDEAU.

Stephen says BUT HE IS VERY CANADIAN,
AND VERY FRENCH CANADIAN.
THE FRENCH CANADIANS SORT
OF SEE HIM AS THE KIND OF
PERSON THEY
WOULD LIKE TO BE.
HE'S SUCH AN
INTELLECTUAL.
HE'S TRAVELLED.
HE'S A VOYAGER OF
THE 20TH CENTURY.
YOU KNOW, LEVESQUE
WAS THE OTHER SIDE.
SO CASUAL AND
SMOKING CIGARETTES,
AND ONE OF THE BOYS.
BUT THEY REALLY
FEEL HE IS THEIRS.

Allan says BECAUSE EVEN
INTELLECTUALLY, I MEAN,
WE HAVE HAD A HISTORY
OF PRIME MINISTERS
WHO KIND OF TRIED TO
GRAPPLE WITH PROBLEMS
AFTER THEY OCCURRED.
TRUDEAU HAD A STRONG VISION
WHICH SOME WOULD ARGUE
RAN VERY CONTRARY TO
THE NATURE OF CANADA
THAT HE TRIED TO
IMPOSE ON IT.
BUT THIS, TOO, IS
A FOREIGN QUALITY,
OR AN APPEARING
FOREIGN QUALITY.

Stephen says WELL, I DON'T KNOW, JOHN A.
MACDONALD HAD A VISION-

Allan says THAT'S A LONG
TIME AGO.

Stephen says FOR CANADA.
LAURIER HAD A VISION.

Christina says BUT I AGREE WITH
ALLAN IN THAT
THIS WAS A
CONSTRUCTED VISION.
AND IT WAS LAID ON WITH
LAYERS OF THE EDUCATION
BEGINNING FROM WHEN HE WAS
STUDYING WITH THE JESUITS.
AND WHAT HE DID, AND ONE OF
THE THINGS WE ARE TRYING
TO SAY ABOUT HIM IS THAT
HE WENT INTO THE HEART
OF THE DARKNESS OF THE
ENGLISH WORLD AS A MEMBER
OF A COLONIAL SOCIETY.
WE FORGET THAT HE
WAS BORN IN 1919,
INTO A SOCIETY WHERE THE
FRENCH CANADIANS WERE VERY
MUCH THE SECONDARY-
THEY SAW THEMSELVES
AS A HUMILIATED PEOPLE.
SOME, IN SOME
CASES, STILL DO.
BUT THAT WAS REALLY
THE CASE THEN.
AND THIS WAS A MAN, THE
PRODUCT OF AN UNUSUAL FAMILY,
WHERE HE WAS TOLD
AGAIN AND AGAIN,
ANYTHING THE ENGLISH
CAN DO, WE CAN DO, TOO.
AND HE SET
ABOUT TO DO IT.
AND ONE OF THE THINGS WAS
TO EXAMINE OUT OF A DEEPLY
CONSERVATIVE SOCIETY,
WHAT LIBERALISM MEANT.
AND HE CONSTRUCTED
A POLITICAL - A SET
OF POLITICAL IDEAS WHICH
BEGAN WITH A QUESTION,
AND STEPHEN CAN TALK
MORE PERSUASIVELY THAN I
ABOUT THE NATURE OF
LIBERALISM IN CANADA,
BUT HE BEGAN WITH A
QUESTION THAT I FOUND
INTENSELY INTERESTING
PSYCHOLOGICALLY.
HE TOLD ME THIS ONCE.
THAT WHEN HE WAS A
STUDENT OF THE JESUITS,
AND INWARDLY REBELLIOUS, AND
TRYING TO COPE WITH THAT
DISCIPLINE, HE KEPT ASKING
HIMSELF, WHY DO PEOPLE OBEY?
WELL, THAT'S A CENTRAL
POLITICAL QUESTION.
AND THAT WAS A QUESTION
THAT MOTIVATED HIM.
HE SAID HE THOUGHT
SOMETIMES I OUGHT TO BE
A POLITICAL PHILOSOPHER.

Allan says YOU SEE, BUT THAT'S
VERY INTERESTING.
ONE OF THE THINGS
THAT, FOR ME,
IS VERY INTRIGUING
ABOUT NOT ONLY THIS,
BUT YOU’RE FIRST
BOOK, IS THERE IS,
THERE'S A VERY IN- DEPTH
PSYCHOLOGICAL PROFILE.
ALMOST AN ANALYTICAL,
PSYCHOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK
THAT EXPLAINS HOW
TRUDEAU HIMSELF BEHAVES.
YET, IN HIS OWN MEMOIRS, AND
IN THE TELEVISION SERIES,
HE'D HAVE YOU BELIEVE
HE'S A MAN OF ACTION.
HE NEVER LOOKS BACK.
THAT INTROSPECTION ISN'T PART
AND PARCEL OF HIS CHARACTER.
IS HE STILL PUTTING
US ON, STEPHEN?

Stephen says THERE'S A LOT OF
NONSENSE IN THE MEMOIRS.
HE CLAIMS IN THE
MEMOIRS HE DIDN'T
EVEN KNOW ABOUT
WORLD WAR II.

Allan says WHY WOULD THAT BE?
WHY WOULD HE TRY TO KIND
OF PULL ONE OVER ON US?

Stephen says HE'S ALWAYS TRYING
TO MANAGE HIS IMAGE.
YOU KNOW, WHAT GLAMOROUS
GIRL DOES HE GO
INTO A CROWDED ROOM
WITH ON HIS ARM?
WHEN DOES HE COME OUT AND
MAKE A DECISIVE SPEECH?
EVERYTHING IS TIMED,
CALCULATED, STAGED.
AND I THINK WITH THE MEMOIRS,
HE WAS TRYING TO GIVE
THE IMPRESSION HE HAS
ALWAYS BEEN A LEFTY.
HE'S ALWAYS BEEN
A SOCIAL DEMOCRAT
PUSHING CANADA
TO THE LEFT.
IN FACT, HE WAS VERY RARELY
ON THE LEFT ON ISSUES
WHEN HE WAS PRIME
MINISTER.
AND BACK WHEN HE
WAS A YOUNG MAN,
A STUDENT AT LAW SCHOOL, HE
WAS ALREADY VERY POLITICAL.
HE CLAIMS HE HAD NO
POLITICAL AMBITIONS.
JUST HAPPENED THAT ONE DAY
HE WAS MADE PRIME MINISTER.
BUT WHEN HE WAS A YOUNG
MAN, HE WAS SO POLITICAL
THAT HIS CLASSMATES SAW
HIM AS A FUTURE LAURIER.

Allan says I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THAT
BECAUSE THERE'S A NUMBER
OF PERSPECTIVES THAT
YOU OFFER IN THE BOOK
THAT ARE VERY CONTRARIAN AGAINST
ESPECIALLY THE BACKGROUND
OF CONVENTIONAL WISDOM AND
OTHER WORKS ON TRUDEAU
THAT HAVE BEEN DONE.
AND PRINCIPALLY AMONG THEM IS
THAT HE WAS A BIG L LIBERAL.
THERE WAS A SMALL
FLIRTATION WITH SOCIALISM,
BUT THERE WAS A CONSISTENCY
TO EVEN HIS PARTISAN,
NOT JUST IDEOLOGICAL
PREDISPOSITION
THROUGHOUT HIS YEARS.

Stephen says WE HAD- AFTER THE FIRST
VOLUME WAS PUBLISHED,
SOME OF HIS OLD FRIENDS
WHO READ IT IN THE FRENCH
EDITION THOUGHT WE WERE
DOING SERIOUS WORK,
AND THEY VOLUNTEERED
INTERVIEWS ABOUT HIM.
PEOPLE LIKE HIS FIRST
SERIOUS GIRLFRIEND,
THAT EVERYONE THOUGHT
HE WAS GOING TO MARRY,
THIS THERESE GOUIN.

Allan says WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN A VERY
POLITICAL MARRIAGE, OF COURSE.
SHE CAME FROM AN ABSOLUTELY
BLUE BLOOD QUEBEC FAMILY.

Christina says WE HAD, BY THAT
TIME, CERTAINLY,
I HAD KNOWN HIM
QUITE WELL FOR 20,
MUCH MORE THAN 20 YEARS, WHEN
WE ENCOUNTERED THIS WOMAN.
AND SHE CAME FROM THIS
GREAT LIBERAL FAMILY.
AND HE, ACCORDING TO HIS
LAW SCHOOL CLASSMATES
WAS ALWAYS
INTERESTED IN WOMEN.
AND IF YOU LOOK
AT THE WOMEN,
THEY DIVIDE UP
INTO CATEGORIES.
BUT ANYWAY, SHE WAS
THE FIRST OF THOSE
FROM IMPORTANT FAMILIES.
AND IT WAS A
LIBERAL FAMILY.
AND HIS INTRODUCTION
TO THAT-

Allan says BECAUSE MARGARET
SINCLAIR CAME FROM
A VERY IMPORTANT
POLITICAL FAMILY, TOO.

Christina says WITH VERY IMPORTANT
BUSINESS CONNECTIONS.
THESE WERE NOT
LEFT LIBERALS;
THESE WERE
BUSINESS LIBERALS.

Allan says RIGHT.

Christina says WHICH THE GOUINS WERE.
AND THEY LIVED INSIDE
THE HEART OF THE ANGLO
ESTABLISHMENT IN MONTREAL,
INSIDE THE SQUARE MILE.
AND THE YOUNG PIERRE, WHO
CAME FROM A DIFFERENT FAMILY,
FROM A FAMILY BEGINNING
ITS CLIMB TO POWER,
A FAMILY
WITH NEW MONEY,
HE WAS APPARENTLY
FASCINATED BY THAT LIFE,
AND BY ITS CONNECTIONS

TO THE CENTRE
INTO THE POLITICAL
POWER IN THE CENTRE.
AND HE UNDERSTOOD VERY WELL
WHAT WENT ON IN THAT FAMILY,
AND HOW THEY
MADE THEIR WAY.
AND THEY MADE THEIR WAY BY
CONNECTIONS TO THE ENGLISH,
TO THE ENGLISH
BUSINESS COMMUNITY.

Stephen says THERESE GOUIN'S GRANDFATHER
HAD BEEN PREMIER OF QUEBEC
BEFORE AND DURING
WORLD WAR I.
HE WAS GIVEN A WHOLE SET OF
SILVER BY THE PRINCE OF WALES.
HE WAS INVITED TO THE
VERSAILLES PEACE CONFERENCE
IN 1919, YOU KNOW, AS
PREMIER OF QUEBEC.
THEY WENT RIGHT TO THE HEART
OF THE EMPIRE, THESE PEOPLE.

Allan says YOU MAKE A GREAT DEAL ABOUT
TRUDEAU THE ACTOR, ALSO,
AND THAT HE WAS VERY
AWARE OF HIS OWN IMAGE.
I WONDER, ANYWAY,
IN REVIEWING THIS,
HOW MUCH OF HIS BEHAVIOUR
THAT OTHERS HAVE ATTRIBUTED
TO A SENSE OF CONVICTION AND
A VERY STRONG IDEOLOGICAL
COMPASS, WASN'T JUST THE
CONSEQUENCE OF HIS ADVISORS
TELLING HIM WHAT TO DO, OR
GET A GOOD IDEA OFFERED
BY SOMEONE ELSE, AND HIM
PLAY ACTING THEM OUT?

Christina says I THINK, ON HIS BASIC
ISSUE, YOU KNOW,
WHICH WAS THE FRENCH-ENGLISH
NATIONAL UNITY, CONSTITUTIONAL
SOLUTION ISSUE, THAT HE
WAS ABSOLUTELY INTEGRATED
CERTAIN OF WHAT HE
BELIEVED IN,
AND FOCUSSED ON WHERE
HE WAS GOING.
I THINK, THOUGH, HE HAD
TWO OR THREE ATTRIBUTES.
HE'S THE QUICKEST
STUDY YOU CAN IMAGINE.
AND HE LEARNED TO BE HIS
OWN BEST SPIN DOCTOR
FROM VERY GOOD
SPIN DOCTORS.
AND HE HAD ALL SORTS
OF LESSONS IN ACTING.
HE DID ELOCUTION.
HE DID JAZZ BALLET.

Allan says DANCING.

Christina says YEA, THE WAY HE USES
HIS BODY IS AN ACTOR'S
USE OF THE BODY.

Allan says I THINK HE'S ALWAYS VERY
AWARE OF HIS SEXUALITY,
ALWAYS IN TERMS OF
CAMERAS AND TELEVISION,
AND HIS SOCIAL
BEHAVIOUR.

Stephen says THE TWO THINGS AREN'T
IN CONFLICT, THOUGH.
WHEN HE WANTED TO DO
SOMETHING ON THE WORLD STAGE
FOR PEACE, YOU COULD
SAY HE WAS ACTING.
BUT HE WAS VERY CONSCIOUS
OF THE POWER OF THE WORD
AND THE IMPORTANCE OF
MAKING AN IMPORTANT SPEECH,
OR THE SPEECH ON THE
CHARLOTTETOWN REFERENDUM
THAT YOU WOULD HAVE
RECORDED YOURSELF, ALLAN.
OR IN THE REFERENDUM
CAMPAIGN IN 1980.
HE KNEW HOW TO PRESENT
HIMSELF TO BEST EFFECT.
SO THERE COULD WELL BE A
MARRIAGE OF HIS CONVICTION
AND WHAT HE IS WANTING
TO DO WITH HIS CAPACITY
TO ACT THE PRIME
MINISTER.

Allan says BUT YOU'RE NOT
UNCRITICAL IN THAT REGARD.
YOUR WHOLE NOTION
OF TRUDEAU'S PERSONALISM
IS HIS BELIEF OF HIS OWN
POWERFULNESS AND HOW THAT
MANIFESTED ITSELF IN POLICY,
SPECIFICALLY FOREIGN POLICY,
YOU KNOW, GOT HIM
INTO SOME TROUBLE.
WHILE HE BELIEVED HE WAS
ON A MISSION FROM GOD
WHICH HE WAS CAPABLE OF SOLVING,
MANY OF HIS INTERNATIONAL
COLLEAGUES THOUGHT HE WAS
QUIXOTIC IN HIS PURSUITS.

Stephen says WELL, WE CALL THE BOOK
THE HEROIC DELUSION FOR A REASON.
HE BOTH HAD A HERO COMPLEX,
BUT HE HAD SOME REAL DELUSIONS
ABOUT WHAT HE COULD DO
AS PRIME MINISTER.

Christina says HE HAD SOME REAL DELUSIONS
ABOUT THE NATURE OF CANADA,
AND ITS PLACE
IN THE WORLD,
AND ITS PLACE IN
THE CONTINENT.
I MEAN, HE WAS A
DETERMINATELY GREAT MAN.
AND HE TURNED HIMSELF
INTO A GREAT MAN
BY ACTING AS THOUGH
HE WAS ONE.
BUT HE WAS NOT FRONTING
A GREAT NATION.
AND THAT HE-

Allan says IS IT NOT A GREAT NATION,
OR A NATION THAT WAS
DECIDEDLY DIFFERENT
THAN THE ONE HE WANTED?

Christina says WELL, HE WANTED TO
MAKE A MODEL STATE.
AND TO IMPOSE ON
THIS FUNNY, DIFFICULT,
SELF-QUIXOTIC
COLLECTION OF PEOPLES,
THIS GRANDIOSE NOTION.
THIS WONDERFUL IDEA
OF THIS BILINGUAL,
MULTICULTURAL
MODEL DEMOCRACY,
AN ANTI-NATIONALIST
DEMOCRACY.
WHICH GETS YOU INTO VERY
HEAVY WEATHER BECAUSE YOU
CAN'T HAVE A GREAT STATE
WITHOUT A GREAT POLITICS
WITHOUT A GREAT CULTURE, AND
WITHOUT A PATRIOTIC SENSE.

Allan says CHRISTINA, YOU'VE HAD RARE
INSIGHTS INTO TRUDEAU.
HE'S ALWAYS BEEN VERY
ALOOF AND STANDOFFISH
WITH PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN
COMMENTING ABOUT HIM,
OR WRITING ABOUT HIM.
YET, YOU'VE HAD
DOZENS UPON DOZENS
OF INTERVIEWS
AND LUNCHES.
WHAT MAKES HIM TICK?

Christina says IT TAKES A
BOOK TO TELL.
I THINK THIS WOUNDED
PRIDE AS A CHILD.
WOUNDED IN TWO WAYS.
LIVING AMONG A PEOPLE
WHO WERE EMERGING,
WHO WERE, YOU KNOW,
COLONIAL.
WE BEGAN TO LOOK A
LOT AT WHAT HAPPENS

TO COLONIAL PEOPLE IN
THE POST-WAR PERIOD,
WHEN THEY THROW
THAT OFF.
SO HE HAD A WAY OUT OF
BEING A COLONIZED BEING.
SO HE'S IN CONSTANT NEED
TO SHOW HIS SUPERIORITY.
AND I NOTICE IT, IF YOU
ARE WITH HIM WITH MEN,
HE IS VERY DIFFERENT THAN HE
IS WHEN HE IS WITH WOMEN.

Allan says EXPLAIN HOW SO?

Christina says HE HAS TO BEAT BACK ANY MAN
WHO HAS SUPERIOR QUALITIES.
THERE ARE MEN WHO DON'T
ROUSE THAT IN HIM.
FATHERLY MEN, LIKE JEAN
MARCHAND, WHO WAS HIS AGE.

Allan says MM-HMM.

Stephen says OR TOM AXWORTHY.

Christina says WELL, TOM AXWORTHY HAD A
WAY OF PLAYING A ROLE
WITH TRUDEAU, AS VERY
MUCH THE SANCHO PANZA PERIOD.
BUT ANYBODY WHO CHALLENGES
HIM IN ANY WAY,
HE MUST BE BETTER THAN.

Allan says THAT'S VERY INTERESTING
BECAUSE HE WAS VERY SEVERE
ON MULRONEY DURING THE MEECH
AND CHARLOTTETOWN PERIOD.
WAS THAT A FUNCTION OF JUST
THIS PERSONALITY ATTRIBUTE,
OR IS THIS AGAIN THE
CLASH OF IDEOLOGY?

Stephen says TO START WITH, IN 1984,
HE WAS MORE FAVOURABLE
TO MULRONEY THAN TO TURNER, AS
A SUCCESSOR BECAUSE HE FELT
MULRONEY WAS MORE ENDORSING
THE TRUDEAU POSITION
ON BILINGUALISM, ON
THE CONSTITUTION,
THAN TURNER WAS, WHO WAS
REALLY CHALLENGING THE
TRUDEAU RECORD FROM
WITHIN THE LIBERAL PARTY.
SO IT WAS ONLY WHEN
MULRONEY STIRRED UP QUEBEC
NATIONALISM, AND STARTED TO
SAY THE 1981 CONSTITUTIONAL
DEAL WAS A HUMILIATION
FOR QUEBEC,
AND REALLY CAUSED THE TROUBLE
AND THE CHAOS THAT LED
TO THE MEECH LAKE THING,
THAT'S WHAT MADE HIM MAD.

Allan says BUT DID IT MAKE HIM MAD
BECAUSE THAT WAS AN IDEA
THAT WAS INCONSISTENT WITH
WHAT HE THOUGHT WAS A PROPER-

Stephen says IT WAS HIS LEGACY.

Allan says BUT AGAIN, I'M TRYING TO
MAKE A DISTINCTION HERE
BETWEEN AN IDEA WHICH HE
THOUGHT WAS GOOD PUBLIC
POLICY AND WAS GOOD
FOR THE NATION,
AND AN IDEA THAT
WAS HIS PERSONALLY,
THAT HE WAS TRYING TO
HUSBAND AND PROTECT.

Christina says BUT THE THING IS HE DOESN'T
SEE THE DIFFERENCE.
IF HE BELIEVES IT, THEN
IT IS GOOD FOR THE NATION.
IT'S THE STATE,
IT'S ME.
ITS EGALIST
KIND OF VIEW.
AND IT'S VERY,
VERY FRENCH.

Allan says FORGET ABOUT
TRUDEAU FOR A SECOND.
THE TWO OF YOU HAVE BEEN
WRITING ON THIS SUBJECT,
CHRISTINA WITH GRITS NOW
FOR COMING ON 15 YEARS.

Christina says TOO LONG, TOO LONG.
Allan says THIS IS YOUR OWN
HEROIC OBSESSION.

Christina says NO, IT'S NOT.
THE THING IS, WHEN
YOU WRITE ABOUT HIM,
YOU WRITE ABOUT CANADA BECAUSE
OF HIS INFINITE VARIETY.
SO MANY SUBJECTS
HAVE COME UP,
AND WE'VE TURNED OUR MINDS
TO ALL SORTS OF THINGS,
CROSS DISCIPLINE THINGS.
SO IT'S NOT JUST THAT
HE'S NEVER BORING,
IT'S THAT WE ARE CANADIANS
ARDENTLY IN LOVE
WITH OUR COUNTRY, AND CANADA
IS NEVER BORING TO US.
AND IT'S BEEN TERRIBLY
TAXING AND EXASPERATING,
BUT IT'S ALSO BEEN
A HUGE PRIVILEGE
TO HAVE THAT

TIME TO DO THAT.
AND NOW THAT IT'S OVER, I CAN
SAY THAT I'M GLAD I DID IT,
BUT BY GOD, I'M
GLAD IT'S OVER.

Allan says WELL LISTEN,
THANK YOU, BOTH.
WHEN WE TALK AGAIN,
I WANT TO TALK ABOUT
TRUDEAU'S POLICIES,
AND HIS LEGACIES.

Stephen says OKAY.

Watch: Christina McCall and Stephen Clarkson on Pierre Trudeau.