The other day, the Forward, New York's Jewish newspaper, ran a story headlined "Book offers new image of Canadian pol." Given that most New York readers don't have any old images of Canadian pols, this seemed an unlikely proposition. But the pol in question was the Canadian pol: Pierre Trudeau, who served as prime minister from 1968 to . . . well, in Vienna in 2002 a middle-aged German said to me, "Canadian? Trudeau is still prime minister?" "Of course," I said, not wishing to detour the conversation down unrewarding paths.
Anyway, the so-called "new image" derives from Young Trudeau: 1919-1944 by Max and Monique Nemni, who reveal that as a young man Trudeau had fascist sympathies, was prone to the routine anti-Semitism of mid-century Quebec francophones, blamed Britain for the Second World War, and spent it riding around Montreal wearing a German helmet. All this is the "old image" for some of us, but every few years the stories are dusted off and Trudeaupian experts are quoted professing shock and puzzlement. Morton Weinfeld, the McGill sociologist, put it down to "youthful stupidity": after all, young Pierre was in his twenties; he couldn't be expected to know any better -- though those other twentysomethings without benefit of his great intellect, the young Canadians and Englishmen and Scotsmen and Americans scrambling ashore at Normandy, all managed to figure it out.
Friday, June 02, 2006
Excerpt; read the whole thing: