Unlike the United States, with its generalissimo politics-Washington,
Jackson, Grant, Eisehower- the martial arts have been conspicuously absent
from Canadian politics. But there in one exception: in 1968 Pierre Elliot
Trudeau became the first Canadian leader to bring the gunslinger-Lone Ranger
ethos to Canadian politics.
Trudeau introduced to Canada the refined art of single combat; it was
the politics of “Doing It My Way”-the politics of going my way or being left
behind. Single-combat confrontation implied much mor than the loner or
renegade in power, and far far less than the shaman black tricks of Mackenzie
King. Trudeau was always far more the solo Philosopher King engaged in
intellectual trial by combat than the Magus Merlin conjuring up solutions by
puffs of smoke, sleight of hand or divine intervention. Ouijaboard politics
was the occult domain of Mackenzie King, a man virtually devoid of policy,
a political palm reader forever checking the whims and moods of his powerful
baronial-Ralston Howe, St. Laurent-and sometimes Byronian colleagues to see
how best he could placate them, or calm them, or Heap his beatitudes upon
Trudeau, from day one , was always more samurai than shaman. Even in
his pre-leadership days, Trudeau’s love of trial by combat was predominant.
Mackenzie King would have never touched the unholy trinity of divorce,
abortion and homosexuality: each one of these issues is a sleeping dog best
left to lie; each could only infuriate conservative Canada from coast to
coast. Since King dared not touch them seriatim he certainly would not have
touched them together-in an omnibus bill.
This, Trudeau did joyously. The myths-makers have it at this was
Trudeau’s first deliberated joust, the kingship being the final prize. But
Trudeau had no leadership aspirations at the time; all that he had, still
has, was the love of combat for the sake of combat and religious scruples be
damned. Trudeau the Catholic zealot tackle divorce, abortion and
homosexuality active Prime Minister in this country’s history, liberated the
homosexual practitioners of black acts totally abhorrent to him; ironically,
in the process, Trudeau gave irrational Canada a pretext for branding him a
P.E.T. has always hated the consensus building of Mackenzie King; even
the populist following of a Diefenbaker was an anathema to Trudeau. The
single-combat warrior “doing it my way” is always alone; he leads the people
but is not of them; like the prophet he wanders either in dessert or lush
green pastures and often, like the prophet, he watches his people march into
the Promised Land without him. For Trudeau, being alone is to be free;
victory is a consequence of solitude; companionship an act of weakness,
cronyism even wise.
It is ironic that Trudeau, a devout Jansenist Roman Catholic,
emotionally and philosophically opposed to both divorce and abortion, should
grant Canadians greatly expanded divorce rights and their first right to
Trudeau took the unholy trinity then disturbing the bedrooms of the
nation because all three were trial combat, all three required one strong man
to push them through. In this minefield Canada’s political loner had walked
alone and apparently loved it.
Canada’s other solo flyer, John Diefenbaker, may or may not have been
a renegade in power, but the input his holitics received from Senate cronies
and Kitchen cabinets was enormous. The letters and advice that daily poured
in to the chief were a populist input that Diefenbaker slavishly adhered to.
Trudeau was no Diefenbaker; he was neither a populist nor a renegade.
Trudeau was simply a man who brilliantly massaged and manipulated others so
that his single will appeared to be the will of many, so that his will be
The theme of my-way politics sheds much light on the vrai Trudeau, the
Trudeau that is, rather than the Trudeau people think there is. Trudeau has
never been the privacy-demanding recluse, the reluctant leader that herdsmen
of Canadian journalism insist he is.
In secular life Trudeau is no trinitarian; he has chosen his oneness
because, from the earliest politics, oneness worked for him so spectacular.
Trudeau’s personal handling of the constriction crisis was a “my way” all the
way. Trudeau, the self-proclaimed socialist prophet of