Pierre Elliott Trudeau:
An unconventional man a conventional PM
OBITUARY: The commanding political figure of his
generation was a patchwork of contradictions in his
personal and political life. Swept into the
prime minister's office on a wave of Trudeaumania,
he left it with an indifferent record of achievement.
JEFFREY SIMPSON, JOHN GRAY AND DONN DOWNEY
Friday, September 29, 2000
For as long as he chose to be, Pierre Elliott Trudeau was the commanding political figure of his generation.
He charmed, challenged, baffled and enraged Canadians, but he never left them indifferent.
For one biographer he was an "unfulfilled Prime Minister." For another, a "Northern Magus" who cast a spell over the hearts and minds of Canadians. But he had an indifferent record of achievement once in office.
Mr. Trudeau, 80, died at his home of prostate cancer yesterday, said Roy Heenan, senior partner of the Montreal law firm Heenan Blaikie where Mr. Trudeau worked.
A statement released by his sons Justin and Sacha, said that they "deeply regret to inform you that their father, the Right Honourable Pierre Elliott Trudeau, passed away shortly after 3 p.m."
The Prime Minister's Office said that a state funeral would be appropriate, but that the final decision would rest with Mr. Trudeau's family.
The former prime minister's health had been visibly failing in recent years. The man whose style and manner dazzled a nation, who brought an astonishing excitement to Canadian public life, seemed frail and lonely.
The death of his son Michel, who drowned in November of 1998 when he was swept into a mountain lake in British Columbia, was particularly shattering for Mr. Trudeau. At the memorial service, the former prime minister seemed a mere shadow of his former self.
His long-time friend, retired senator Jacques Hébert, later described the death of Michel as overwhelming for Mr. Trudeau: "It took away something that was irreplaceable to him."
Before his son's death, Mr. Trudeau had been equally shaken by the death of his old friend and colleague Gérard Pelletier, who died of cancer in 1997. At the time, Mr. Trudeau said "a part of my soul has left me."
His success as a politician was very much a matter of timing. Canadians had a new and better opinion of themselves coming off the 1967 Centennial Year celebrations, and they no longer wanted stuffed-shirt prime ministers such as Mr. Trudeau's immediate predecessors, Lester Pearson and John Diefenbaker.
Mr. Trudeau dared to wear sandals in the House of Commons, was flippant when others were serious and was under the age of 50 when he became leader of the Liberal Party. Women found him attractive, in part because he was single, but he also had an air of sophistication that could not be found in either Mr. Pearson or Mr. Diefenbaker.
He used all this to good effect and became the first Canadian prime minister to regard television as an ally rather than as an enemy. He was the master of the sound bite, telling Canadians that "the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation."
It was his first and probably his most successful sound bite, judging from the less statesmanlike bites that followed.
"Go on and bleed," he said of the bleeding hearts after troops moved into the streets of Montreal, Quebec City and Ottawa to deal with the FLQ crisis in 1970. And when a television journalist asked him how far he would go, he replied, "Just watch me." Days later, he invoked the War Measures Act.
Whatever his biographers wrote, Canadians, or at least the largest number of them, elected him prime minister in four of the five elections in which he led the Liberals. He was briefly out of power when the Progressive Conservatives under Joe Clark were elected on May 22, 1979, but he was back in power by Feb. 18, 1980.
He governed for 16 years until John Turner replaced him as Liberal leader and prime minister on June 30, 1984. Only John A. Macdonald and Mackenzie King surpassed his length of tenure.
That his party was defeated a few months after he stepped down was an indictment of his later years in office rather than a reflection on his successor. He had governed too long, and what Pierre Trudeau was in 1968 -- a French Canadian speaking for English Canada -- was not relevant in 1984. The threat to national unity had virtually disappeared in the interim, and in 1984 Canadians were more concerned with unemployment, the alienation of Canadians outside Quebec and Ontario, and the need for a change in a government.
He was the most unconventional of men, but the most conventional of prime ministers, at least after his first term in office. When first elected, he set about governing with flow charts, task forces, study groups, regional desks and policy reviews. This produced meagre results, especially in political terms. The Liberals nearly lost the 1972 election, clinging to power with only two more seats than the Conservatives.
Mr. Trudeau learned his lesson, and from then on governed in entirely conventional ways. He put his political fortunes in the hands of the party professionals, dispensed patronage like the best ward heeler, shifted policy direction to curry favour with the electorate, alternated between contrition and defiance, and won re-election handsomely in 1974.
His personality and private life were a continuous source of titillation. He fed that fascination by squiring highly visible women, such as actress Barbra Streisand, even inviting Ms. Streisand to visit the House of Commons to watch him perform during Question Period.
But at the age of 51 he married a dazzling 22-year-old, Margaret Sinclair. The ultimate sanction on a storybook romance was that the first two of their sons were both born on Christmas Day.
Sadly, it was not long before the romance became an excruciatingly painful public embarrassment for the man who was by instinct so inward and private.
The marriage fell apart. There seemed increasingly less to bind the middle-aged intellectual and the young wife who was the product of the age of sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll. They were from different generations.
While Mr. Trudeau did his best to run the country, Margaret fled to Toronto and consorted with the Rolling Stones, and then to Studio 54 in New York and friendships with the likes of Jack Nicholson, Ryan O'Neal and Senator Ted Kennedy.
She even wrote her memoirs, describing their alienation. It all seemed a startling repudiation of Mr. Trudeau's personal motto, Reason Over Passion. A quilt inscribed with the motto hung at 24 Sussex Dr. until Margaret ripped it down during a fight.
But if events dictated, he could be the most passionate of men.
Nowhere were his passions more evident than in his commitment to federalism and to keeping Quebec within Confederation. Even his detractors recognized his enormous contribution in combating Quebec separatism. At war with Quebec nationalism before his entry into politics in 1965, Mr. Trudeau continued his attacks as minister of justice and as prime minister. He angered many English Canadians with the introduction of bilingualism and the promotion of French-speaking civil servants to high posts, but a decade after the Official Languages Act, bilingualism was more widely accepted than anyone would have believed in the early 1970s.
In many other ways, Mr. Trudeau was a patchwork of contradictions. He was the bachelor who married the flower child; the civil libertarian who invoked the War Measures Act; the political independent who joined the Liberal Party; the strong centralist who made sweeping offers for greater decentralization in 1979; the politician who remained a loner.
He was not a man to be crossed. Supremely confident of his own abilities, he often provoked confrontations and relished the ensuing fights. One biographer described him as the Single Combat Champion, happiest when fighting alone. From this sprang his image of toughness and decisiveness, which, according to many polls, made him popular with the largest number of Canadians. When Mr. Trudeau first ran for office in 1965, he seemed a most unlikely candidate, let alone future prime minister.
He had steered clear of partisan politics until his first election, preferring instead to travel, write, teach and enjoy himself.
He had a personal fortune of more than $1-million when $1-million was a lot of money. It was an inheritance from his father, who had sold a chain of gasoline stations to Imperial Oil.
As a young man he had often attacked the Liberals, but when the party was searching for fresh candidates from Quebec in 1965, he jumped on board and won a seat in Mount Royal.
The party bosses were more interested in labour leader Jean Marchand, but he would enter federal politics only with newspaper editor Gérard Pelletier and Mr. Trudeau, then a professor. The Three Wise Men, as they were dubbed by the media, thus arrived in Ottawa together.
Mr. Trudeau was considered the least likely to succeed. His bitter attacks on Quebec nationalism had so frightened many Quebec Liberals that no French-speaking riding could be found for him, so he parachuted into the largely English-speaking riding of Mount Royal.
Mr. Trudeau soon made a name for himself.
His unconventional dress soon caught the attention of Mr. Diefenbaker, who derided him for wearing an ascot in the House of Commons. But he was appointed parliamentary secretary to the prime minister and was later made minister of justice.
In that portfolio, Mr. Trudeau oversaw passage of Criminal Code amendments on abortion and homosexuality. In his defence of the changes relating to homosexuality, Mr. Trudeau used his "bedrooms of the nation" sound bite, stating the obvious but nonetheless endearing himself to small-l liberals.
On his arrival in Ottawa for the leadership convention in 1968, he attracted an adoring crowd similar to those that greeted the Beatles. When one heckler accused him of being a separatist, Mr. Trudeau dismissed it with the reply, "So's your old man."
It was a tactic Mr. Trudeau used throughout his political career, not always with positive results. This time, however, it had no effect on the leadership race, which Mr. Trudeau won on the fourth ballot. He immediately called an election.
Trudeaumania swept the country and the Liberals won a majority government, something that had eluded the party under Mr. Pearson in the elections of 1963 and 1965.
The election of 1968 provided a spectacle perhaps unequalled in Canadian political history. Mr. Trudeau, the attractive and eligible bachelor, was mobbed everywhere he went, especially by adoring young women who asked for a kiss. Mr. Trudeau usually obliged.
He spoke about a "just society" and warned against giving Quebec special status within Confederation. Both messages fell on receptive ears. English Canada was against special status for any province, but especially Quebec. Further, Mr. Trudeau seemed to be a Quebecker who would keep the province quiet.
The country was in a happy frame of mind and Mr. Trudeau, all youth and dash and charisma, personified how Canadians liked to picture themselves and their country. After the tiresome and seemingly interminable bickering between Mr. Diefenbaker and Mr. Pearson, Mr. Trudeau was an arresting new face, a man of the future and an intellect for the 1970s.
He was also lucky. On election eve, a riot broke out in Montreal's Lafontaine Park, a few metres from where Mr. Trudeau was watching the St. Jean Baptiste parade from a reviewing stand. There were 125 injured and 234 arrested. Bottles were thrown at the reviewing stand, but while others on the stand flinched or ducked, Mr. Trudeau stood still. That night, television showed him staring down the separatists and troublemakers.
The next day, his party captured 155 seats. The Conservatives, the NDP and the Créditistes won a combined 108.
The country expected a period of dynamic, innovative government, and when these expectations were not met, it felt betrayed, turning against the Trudeau government in 1972, when his majority was reduced to two seats.
He had accomplished a lot in four years, creating the Department of Regional Economic Expansion, which tackled the problems of chronic underdevelopment. Two new programs -- Opportunities for Youth and Local Initiatives -- attacked youth unemployment. The Official Languages Act enshrined official bilingualism. A review of defence and foreign policies led to a reduction in Canada's commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
But a lot had gone wrong. Mr. Trudeau's attempt to achieve constitutional reform foundered at a 1971 conference in Victoria. His bilingualism program was widely resented or misunderstood by the civil service and in English Canada. More liberal access to employment-insurance benefits created highly publicized abuses. The studies and task forces provided work for bureaucrats and consultants, but they never seemed to produce lasting policy changes.
A long-overdue overhaul of the tax system pleased neither the business community nor ordinary taxpayers. A competition bill had its guts ripped out by the business lobby.
Inflation began to rise, and the government-created Prices and Incomes Commission was unsuccessful in its attempt to jawbone business and labour into restraint.
But the invoking of the War Measures Act in response to a request from the Quebec Government in 1970 was his single most controversial act. It was supported by a majority of Canadians at the time, but its use cast doubt on Mr. Trudeau's civil-libertarian sentiments.
He never softened his defence of its use after Front de Libération du Québec terrorists kidnapped British trade commissioner James Cross and Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte, who was later murdered.
The government dispatched troops to patrol the Montreal streets. Police arrested and imprisoned hundreds without laying charges, but the kidnappings in fact involved only a handful of terrorists.
Still, Mr. Trudeau defended his actions. "There are lots of bleeding hearts around that just don't like to see people with helmets and guns," he said.
"All I can say is 'Go on and bleed.' But it's more important to keep law and order in society than to be worried about weak-kneed people who don't like the looks of an army."
Asked how far he would go, Mr. Trudeau replied, "Just watch me," and the international community applauded.
As the 1972 election drew near, Mr. Trudeau was increasingly seen as arrogant and uncaring. He scarcely helped himself by calling opposition MPs "nobodies" during a debate on a Conservative filibuster against rule changes in the Commons.
By this time, the Liberals were out of favour in English Canada, and they compounded their problems by running an astonishingly inept election campaign, built around the vacuous slogan, The Land is Strong. While his political opponents (and much of the electorate) focused on unemployment, inflation and other bread-and-butter concerns, Mr. Trudeau delivered empty speeches about the future.
Rather than campaigning in the traditional style, he said he was entering into a "dialogue with Canadians."
The 1972 campaign was a personal catharsis for Mr. Trudeau. His own campaign had exposed his political naiveté; he had won so easily in 1965 and 1968 that he had never learned how rough-and-tumble politics can be. In near defeat, Mr. Trudeau brooded. The only thing he hated more than admitting a mistake was losing, and now he had nearly lost.
From that experience forward, Mr. Trudeau became the most conventional of politicians. He dumped his political aides and replaced them with Senator Keith Davey and Jim Coutts, who became his adviser for the 1974 campaign and subsequently his principal secretary.
For Mr. Davey and Mr. Coutts, politics had a simple goal: keeping the Liberals in power.
In the 1972-1974 minority Parliament, Mr. Trudeau pitched his government's policies toward attracting the support of the New Democratic Party, which held the balance of power. Social programs were considerably enriched; an inquiry under Mr. Justice Thomas Berger was established to investigate the impact of a pipeline down the Mackenzie River; a Food Prices Review Commission began studying the high cost of food; the deadline was extended for civil servants in designated bilingual positions to learn a second language, and employment insurance was tightened.
But above all, Mr. Trudeau became humble, at least in public. While his aggressive personality chafed in near-defeat, his public performances were markedly different. The Speech from the Throne talked about areas of "incompetence" in government. Mr. Trudeau began to meet regularly with small groups of Liberals, paying attention to the party's rank and file for the first time in his political career. And to Canadians, he said he had learned lessons from the electoral verdict.
When the Liberals were defeated on a vote in Parliament in the spring of 1974, the party's fortunes had been largely restored. So it was with carefully restrained public enthusiasm that the Liberals accepted their defeat in the Commons.
From Trudeau-the-Humble in the minority Parliament, the prime minister became Trudeau-the-Attacker in the 1974 campaign. He was given a heaven-sent issue by Conservative leader Robert Stanfield, who campaigned on wage-and-price controls. "Zap, you're frozen," Mr. Trudeau shouted to his audiences about Mr. Stanfield's proposal.
Mr. Trudeau campaigned as a partisan political leader. He showed flair and panache in contrast to the earnest Mr. Stanfield's stolidness.
By then, he had married Margaret. He had insisted she stay removed from politics after they were married, but she turned up on the campaign trail, titillating audiences with little speeches about how Pierre had "taught me a lot about loving."
It was saccharine but effective, and the Liberals won a majority with 141 seats.
Over the next five years, Mr. Trudeau frittered away his mandate during the personal turmoil of his disintegrating marriage.
As he did after his majority triumph in 1968, Mr. Trudeau used his election in 1974 to launch another series of studies about what problems government should be tackling. For nearly a year, a team of bureaucrats interviewed each other, trying to draft a series of goals for the federal government.
In the leaden vocabulary of bureaucracy it was called a "priorities exercise," but it amounted to nothing.
The goals were so vague that any first-year political-science student could have drafted them on the back of an envelope in a couple of hours.
Meanwhile, inflation began an upward spiral.
The rate of inflation moved into double figures in 1975; wage increases of more than 20 per cent were not uncommon. The cabinet studied three options: tighter fiscal and monetary policy; voluntary wage and price guidelines, and wage and profit controls.
The last option, of course, was perilously similar to the Conservative program Mr. Trudeau had so vehemently attacked in the 1974 campaign. Thus, the nation was justifiably stunned when he announced in a television broadcast on Thanksgiving Day that his government would impose three years of wage and profit controls.
Inflation did indeed abate over the following three years, but most independent economists concluded that the slackening had more to do with external factors than with controls. And his political opponents and organized labour never forgave his policy reversal. Nor did much of the electorate. Liberal polls before the 1979 election indicated that Mr. Trudeau's own credibility had been damaged.
Throughout his tenure as prime minister, his government's economic policies gyrated wildly. What remained constant were huge increases in public spending. The deficit in 1979 was larger than total federal spending in 1968, the year Mr. Trudeau took power.
He made several half-hearted stabs at restraint, but the legacy of his policy was a massive increase in the activities of government and enormous government deficits. Some of his critics charged that Mr. Trudeau was a closet socialist. And they were provided new ammunition at the end of 1975, when Mr. Trudeau mused in a year-end interview about the deficiencies of the free market.
So loud was the outcry, even from within his own caucus, that Mr. Trudeau recanted and never again seriously questioned the free market, although his government continued to expand state activity, especially in the energy field through Petro-Canada, the Crown energy corporation established in 1975.
Differences over how to control galloping inflation also cost Mr. Trudeau his finance minister, John Turner. But there were also serious personality clashes.
The prime minister had few close friends. Cabinet ministers came and went, earning Mr. Trudeau's trust or wrath but almost never his friendship. He invariably forgot the small gesture that would have smoothed hurt feelings.
By the summer of 1976, the Liberals had plunged in public esteem; they were 17 points behind the Conservatives under their new leader, Mr. Clark. Mutterings were heard within the Liberal Party about the "Trudeau problem."
Then came the Quebec election of Nov. 15, 1976, which temporarily restored Mr. Trudeau's fortunes. The Parti Québécois, espousing sovereignty association, took office, and Mr. Trudeau squared off against his old nemesis, premier René Lévesque.
The PQ's triumph alarmed and confused English Canada, which again turned to Mr. Trudeau for leadership. He was a French Canadian, a resolute opponent of separatism, the only person who could keep Canada united. From a 17-point deficit, the Liberals soared into an 18-point lead in a Gallup Poll taken six months after the PQ victory.
So popular was Mr. Trudeau, the apparent nation-saver, that Mr. Coutts and Mr. Davey urged him to call an election in the fall of 1977. Mr. Trudeau said no.
From that point on, his popularity declined. English Canada's concern about the breakup of Canada subsided. For all its rhetoric, the Parti Québécois was not taking Quebec from Canada. Polls indicated that Quebeckers still wished to remain part of Canada. English Canada increasingly resumed its previously somnolent attitude toward Quebec.
If the country was not about to break up, it did not need a saviour. The less English Canadians thought about national unity, the more they focused on the economy. Once their gaze turned toward inflation and unemployment, Mr. Trudeau was in trouble.
His government was tired, an aging vaudeville player, croaking stale songs of yesteryear before a disgruntled audience.
Without telling his minister of finance, Jean Chrétien, Mr. Trudeau announced $2-billion in spending cuts in the summer of 1978. His political advisers were telling him that the country was becoming more conservative. So he attempted to tack with the political wind, to "out-Tory the Tories," as his advisers described the move. It was another example of his government's gyrating economic policy, but the public was unimpressed.
The polls were unremittingly discouraging. Months passed without improvement. Mr. Trudeau tried speaking tours, new policies, a cabinet shuffle. Nothing worked. The five-year deadline for calling an election was coming close -- two months remained. The inevitable was faced: Mr. Trudeau went to the country and, on May 22, lost.
The Progressive Conservatives formed the next government with 136 seats while the Liberals held 114, the New Democratic Party 26 and the Créditistes six.
It seemed to be the end of his political career and in November he talked of retirement. But the Conservatives blundered on Dec. 13, failing to muster enough members for a vote of confidence, and Mr. Clark was forced to call a general election for Feb. 18.
Mr. Trudeau decided to stay on for one more election but said he would "take steps to leave" at the end of 1981. He was rewarded by the electorate, which returned the Liberals with 147 seats. The Conservatives collected 103 and the New Democratic Party 32.
Mr. Trudeau had made no secret about his indifference to the job of Opposition Leader, but with his hands on the controls he hedged on his retirement.
When he was sworn in, he said, "I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep." He kept the promises, at least those he made to himself. He brought the Constitution back to Canada to join the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Quebec nationalism was quiescent and the national energy program gave a nationalist slant to Canada's economic program.
He also launched his peace initiative, which was greeted with scorn or indifference in Washington but applauded in the rest of the world. It took Mr. Trudeau to Western and Eastern Europe, India, Japan, China, Moscow and Washington. The Progressive Conservatives, under their new leader Brian Mulroney, could only stand by and watch while Mr. Trudeau was nominated for the the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize and the Albert Einstein Peace Foundation $50,000 International Peace Prize.
But it was not quite the issue that was uppermost in the voters' minds. They were thinking about unemployment, retraining the work force, co-operation between governments and the lingering problem of accommodating Canadians who lived outside of Quebec and Ontario, an issue Mr. Trudeau had never successfully coped with.
It is a measure of his failure that, when he was elected, there were five provincial Liberal governments and, when he resigned, there were none.
In Western Canada, the record was even more damning. At the time Mr. Trudeau took office there were Liberals sitting in each provincial legislature in the four western provinces, but when he stepped down in 1984 there were none, just slightly worse than their federal strength, which consisted of two Liberal MPs between Manitoba and Vancouver Island.
This anti-Trudeau feeling was dramatically demonstrated in 1981, when his railway car was pelted with tomatoes after he delivered his infamous middle-finger gesture to a group of demonstrators in Salmon Arm, B.C.
Mr. Trudeau and the West got out of step with each other after his triumphal election in 1968. It was in the West that governments and voters alike objected most bitterly to the idea that someone, somehow, was going "to push French down our throats."
He alienated farmers by asking, "Why should I sell your wheat?" It was not a bad question about the fundamental interaction of government and markets, but to the frustrated farmers it sounded like a shrug of indifference.
The final straw was the national energy program, which put an oil and gas pricing system set by Ottawa in place over international market prices. The result was a delight for oil and gas consumers, but it was devastating for the energy companies and the treasuries of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
With energy, as with wheat and bilingualism, it seemed to the West that the Trudeau Liberals governed for Quebec and Ontario, and that the West hardly mattered.
It was little wonder that by 1984 Mr. Trudeau was reviled throughout the West and, as Mr. Diefenbaker used to say of the Conservatives in an earlier generation, the Liberals weren't even protected by the game laws.
There was some irony in the fact that Mr. Trudeau had come to office by establishing a Montreal-Ottawa axis that in his later years became a political burden. In his last 16 months in office he shuffled his cabinet four times, attempting at least to give the appearance that there was a shift back to the old Toronto-Ottawa axis, but it was viewed by many as a cynical attempt to maintain the seats in Toronto that were crucial to the Liberals.
He had never been in touch with the rank and file in Canada and, when he was seen on the beach in Indonesia in January of 1983 during a tour of Asian countries, he blurted out: "If I were in Canada now, I'd probably just be ending a week of skiing, which everybody else is doing if they're not in the Caribbean. There is such a thing as Christmas vacation and most people are taking it."
Aides said later he was referring to senior people in Ottawa, but that's not how it came out. It certainly didn't earn him votes at home, where unemployment stubbornly hovered above 12 per cent. His government seemed unable to do anything about it, although inflation had been curbed and was under 10 per cent for the first time in 2½ years at the beginning of 1983.
Liberal support in the public-opinion polls was steadily dwindling, reaching its nadir in September of 1983 when a Gallup Poll gave the Tories 62 per cent of the popular vote. That was after the summer honeymoon for Mr. Mulroney as the new Tory leader. Mr. Trudeau was out of the public eye on holiday in Greece.
Although his peace initiative in October blunted the Tory charge, even Liberal pollsters admitted in February of 1984 that it was not enough to win an election. More than anything else, Canadians seemed to want change, a fact that was driven home when Mr. Trudeau resigned on Feb. 29, 1984, and the party's popularity soared. As was the case with most of his major decisions, he made it alone, this time during a solitary walk along Sussex Drive during Ottawa's worst snowstorm of the winter.
As the Liberals headed into their June leadership convention, the decision to quit gained more public support as the nation's attention shifted to those who sought to succeed Mr. Trudeau.
He remained neutral during the campaign, but during his last month as prime minister he managed to reward the party faithful, appointing 225 of them to government jobs.
Just before the convention elected Mr. Turner, polls showed the Liberals held a 10-point margin over the Conservatives, prompting Mr. Turner to call a general election for Sept. 4. But Mr. Trudeau was still prime minister and in one of his last acts, he rewarded 23 Liberal warhorses, roughly one-sixth of his caucus, with political appointments. It was left to Mr. Turner to make these appointments public.
Mr. Mulroney won points on the issue in one of the television debates but, more important, his was not only a new face but a new party. Mr. Turner, meanwhile, had to cling to the Trudeau loyalists and at the same time persuade the uncommitted voter that he offered something new.
When the votes were counted, the Liberals were reduced to 40 seats, only 10 more than the NDP. The Conservatives won the most in their history, electing 211 members.
On Sept. 20, Mr. Trudeau accepted a job with the Montreal law firm of Heenan, Blaikie, Jolin, Potvin, Trépanier, Corbett where he was senior counsel to the firm's lawyers. His salary was estimated to be $200,000 annually, and he was due to collect a $67,000 pension from the federal government.
He and his three sons, Justin, Sacha and Michel, retreated to a mansion on Mount Royal where, he made it clear, he did not want to be disturbed.
In an interview on his first day of the new job he said he wanted a base with a secretary "so that people inclined -- even the press -- to ring my doorbell at my home will come to the office instead . . . and get a bill for seeing me."
About six months into his stint as a lawyer, he got a glowing report card from his colleagues. They said he was in the office three to four days a week from 9:30 to 4:30 p.m. He lunched with clients, attended promotional benefits some evenings on behalf of clients and dispensed wisdom to anyone who knocked. He always left in time to be home when his sons returned from school.
But Mr. Trudeau was not long out of the public eye. He was photographed with actress Margot Kidder in the fall of 1984, and on Nov. 15 he said on CTV that "I think I could have won that election, if you want to know the truth."
He also gave Mr. Turner short shrift when the Liberal leader tried to strike up a conversation at a fundraising gathering in Montreal.
In the summer of 1985, he and his three sons toured Asia. He said he wanted his sons to see Russia, but along the way he called on Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Mongolian leader Zhambyn Batmunkh.
And he continued to court or ignore the press at his whim.
Then there was his appearance in Toronto on Jan. 19, 1998, when he showed up at the launch of an English-language edition of Cité Libre, a federalist magazine to which Mr. Trudeau contributed in the 1950s and early 1960s. It was Trudeaumania revisited with the old cast of characters showing up to pay homage to their long-retired leader.
A woman in a purple wool coat beamed as she approached him. "I campaigned for you in the sixties, and if you want to run again, I'll be there for you," she said. Mr. Trudeau grinned warmly and answered quietly, "We'd make a good team."
He was less gracious to reporters, ducking questions with the familiar shrug of his shoulders.
Do you want to talk about the magazine? "Not particularly." Does this bring back any memories of the magazine's original edition? "Memory? I'm losing my memory." What do you think of a new book suggesting that a separatist movement might arise in Ontario? "I'm out of politics now, and you can't be half in and half out. . . . You'll have to answer your own questions."
LIFE AND TIMES OF PIERRE TRUDEAU
1919: Oct. 18: Born in Montreal to Charles-Emile Trudeau and Grace Elliott
1944: Called to Quebec bar
1946: Graduates from Harvard with Masters in political economy
1949: Joins Privy Council Office as adviser
1950: Co-founds Cité Libre
1961: Appointed associate professor of law at University of Montreal
1965: Elected Liberal MP for Montreal riding of Mount Royal
1966: Appointed parliamentary secretary to prime minister Lester Pearson
1967: Sworn to the Privy Council, appointed justice minister
1968: Elected Liberal leader; sworn in as PM; Liberals win June election
1969: Official Languages Act introduced
1970: October: Invokes War Measures Act
1971: March 4: Marries Margaret Sinclair, 22; son Justin born Dec. 25
1972: Liberals re-elected in a minority government
1973: Dec. 25: Son Alexandre Emmanual (Sacha) born
1974: Liberals regain majority
1975: Son Michel born
1979: Joe Clark's Tories defeat Liberals; Trudeau resigns as PM
1980: Tory government falls; Trudeau sworn in as PM
1982: April 17: Patriates Constitution with Charter of Rights
1984: Resigns as PM and joins Montreal law firm Heenan Blaikie; is divorced from Margaret
1991: Daughter Sarah Elisabeth born to Trudeau and Deborah Coyne
1998: Nov. 13; Son Michel drowns on a skiing trip in B.C.
1999: Dec. 31: Hospitalized with pneumonia; released Jan. 9, 2000