With 2012 comes the bicentennial of the War of 1812, the US presidential election, and a question mark about the Canadian economy. This week’s Canada Soup touches on all of these as well as an intriguing story about John Diefenbaker’s possible paternity, the influence of the King James Bible on the English language, and survey results that are both good news and not-so-good-news about Canadians’ knowledge of their own history. Ready or not, here we come, 2012!
[Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from Douglas Gibson’s new book Stories About Storytellers: Publishing Alice Munro, Robertson Davies, Alistair MacLeod, Pierre Trudeau, and Others, running every Friday. The following is from the chapter on former Prime Minister Paul Martin.]
So what went wrong? What turned the man whom many would hail as the country’s best minister of finance into a disappointing prime minister? What occurs to me is the two-word answer . . . Jean Chrétien. First, we should recognize that the long, secret, underground war with the Chrétienites was an amazing success. History affords few examples of a sitting prime minister with a winning record, a comfortable majority in the House, and a good standing in the polls, being forced out by a palace coup from inside his own party. And all without stilettos or machine guns.
[Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from Douglas Gibson’s new book Stories About Storytellers: Publishing Alice Munro, Robertson Davies, Alistair MacLeod, Pierre Trudeau, and Others, running every Friday. The following is taken from the chapter on Prime Minister and author, Brian Mulroney.]
Unlike Mr. Diefenbaker, Brian Mulroney wrote his Memoirs himself. Every word. In longhand. That had not always been the plan, after Avie Bennett used his excellent contacts with people like Mulroney’s old pal from St. Francis Xavier, Sam Wakim, to entice Mulroney to sign up with M&S to publish his memoirs. At the outset, there had been some thought of having a writer work with him, and I had secretly approached one or two likely candidates. But in the end Brian — as he soon became — decided to do it himself, with the aid of a hard-working researcher based in Kingston named Arthur Milnes.
“Pierre Trudeau among us was his greatest contribution.” - Rex Murphy
Pierre Trudeau’s death on September 28, 2000, brought about a spontaneous outpouring of national pride and mourning perhaps unprecedented for any political leader in our history. To many Canadians, he was the very embodiment of the nation. Yet, by what means can we judge a life? In a recent book two historians ranked Pierre Trudeau a paltry fifth among Canada’s prime ministers. If criteria for eminence were to include vision, force of character, style or intellect, then surely none but Macdonald would surpass Trudeau. He would be considered truly the second father of his country.