It’s Sunday! Did you know…
* 1968 – Pierre Trudeau wins a majority in the 28th federal general election. (Trudeau, who was a relative unknown until he was appointed to the cabinet by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, had won a surprise victory over Paul Joseph James Martin, Paul Hellyer and Robert Winters in the party’s leadership election earlier in 1968. The charismatic, intellectual, handsome, single, and fully bilingual Trudeau soon captured the hearts and minds of the nation, and the period leading up to the election saw such intense feelings for him that it was dubbed “Trudeaumania.” At public appearances, he was confronted by screaming girls, something never before seen in Canadian politics.
The Liberal campaign was dominated by Trudeau’s personality. Liberal campaign ads featured pictures of Trudeau inviting Canadians to “Come work with me”, and encouraged them to “Vote for New Leadership for All of Canada”. The substance of the campaign was based on the creation of a “just society”, with a proposed expansion of social programs.
This was the first Canadian federal election to hold a leaders debate, on June 9, 1968. The debate included Trudeau, Stanfield, Douglas, and in the latter part Réal Caouette, with Caouette speaking French and Trudeau alternating between the languages. The assassination of Robert F. Kennedy three days before cast a pall over the proceedings, and the stilted format was generally seen as boring and inconclusive.
The results of the election were sealed when on the night before the election a riot broke out at the St. Jean Baptiste Day parade in Montreal. Protesting the prime minister’s attendance at the parade, supporters of Quebec independence yelled Trudeau au poteau [Trudeau to the gallows] and threw bottles and rocks. Trudeau, whose lack of military service during World War II had led some to question his courage, firmly stood his ground and did not flee from the violence despite the wishes of his security escort. Images of Trudeau standing fast to the thrown bottles of the rioters were broadcast across the country and swung the election even further in the Liberals’ favor as many English-speaking Canadians believed that he would be the right leader to fight the threat of Quebec separatism.) Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… June 25th”