This month marks the tenth anniversary of the rise to office of Canada's Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau.
This month marks the tenth anniversary of the rise to office of Canada's Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau. Now, as he goes into his eleventh year as leader, the signs are that he is preparing to call another general election.
SYNOPSIS: When Pierre Elliott Trudeau was introduced, in April, 1968, as Canada's new Prime Minister, few people outside Montreal and Ottawa knew very much about him. Today, he is still there -- among the best-known and certainly the longest-serving Prime Minister in the Western world.
Two months after coming into office, Trudeau called his first election. The result, a decisive victory for his forceful approach to politics, reflected Canada's fascination with its new, youthful, rich and slightly raffish leader. In a world where charisma was becoming an important asset in leadership, Trudeau was pure political gold.
At home and abroad, he quickly gained a reputation as a playboy with a gift for statesmanship -- equally at home amid the realities of world politics or at a stag night in the Ottawa Press Club. But beneath the clowning lay a tough and astute politician.
Himself a bi-lingual Quebecker, Trudeau governs a nation split over French-speaking separatism. His resistance to that has always been determined...
Trudeau's jet-set image was revised in 1971 when he married. He and Margaret Trudeau were, briefly, Canada's favourite couple but last year they parted. It brought political trouble, but Trudeau rode it with typical panache.
Trudeau's Next test of public support is likely to come at an election in June. Then??? he will face the challenge of opposition leader Joe Clark -- a 38-year-old rapid-firing leader in a similar mould to Trudeau himself. But Clark is just one of his problems -- the ever-present strain of separatist demands with the province of Quebec, the ailing dollar, ten percent inflation and unemployment are there to trip him if he puts a foot wrong.
But so far, the high-stepping Pierre Trudeau has rarely lost his footing. And even if, after ten year, he is not entirely loved, he is respected among Canadians. Gone are the swinging days and nights, and charisma is less important. At 58, Trudeau is no longer the whizzkid -- more the old reliable.