Whatever happened to... Pierre Trudeau

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The Independent Online
Way Back: in 1968, a new Prime Minister of Canada is elected. A man who drives fast cars, courts faster women, is witty, elegant and has been expensively over-educated. Not your typical Canadian, then (apart from the latter). He declaims against the extreme conservatism of the previous regime, the Union Nationale and advocates a more liberal society.

Whatever next? In 1970 these views are put to the sword. In response to the murder by Quebec Separatists of a local politician he calls out the army and declares the War Measures Act, giving the police wide-ranging powers of arrest.

But: Trudeau tries to regain his liberal credentials by taking a relaxed attitude to his wife's extra-marital affairs, though they split after the one with Mick Jagger in 1977. He is voted out of power in 1979.

The twist: Only to make a dramatic return in 1980. And with separatists losing the referendum that year Canada finally seems set to share in Trudeau's federalist vision. Except that the vision doesn't extend to the economy. Billions of dollars are squandered in the Arctic regions of Canada in 1980 as Trudeau searches for oil - and economic independence, mainly from the States. Trudeau also takes a different line from the US in saying what a nice chap Castro is despite Cuba's human rights record.

Goodbye: After 16 years, Trudeau stands down as leader of the Liberal Party and the country. By 1984, he has lost his popularity. But perversely not his looks. The one used to guarantee the other. His successor, Mulroney is less attractive and unpopular. The Conservatives make an even worse hash of the Quebec problem.

Hello again: Trudeau speaks out in 1992 against a new referendum. In reply to those who call him a man of the past he replies: "So was Pythagoras, but two plus two still equals four."

Stay tuned: He gets a party member pregnant in 1995. Then at the Montreal Film Festival in September that year is mistaken for a tramp and thrown out. But he certainly isn't - he's on the board of solicitors Heenan Blackie. He was recently spotted at a dinner given by the company and was said to look, in true patrician style, "as bored as ever".

James Aufenast