Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Primed for power

Four Canadian prime ministers appear in this 1967 photograph. From left: Pierre Trudeau, John Turner, Jean Chretien and, PM of the day, Lester Pearson.

After decades in power, the Liberals had been defeated in 1957 by the Diefenbaker Conservatives. The Liberals reached out to Pearson to return them to power in 1958. Canadians said, "No," awarding 208 seats to the Tories and just 48 to the Liberals.

But in 1963, Pearson's party came roaring back to form a minority government, and repeated in 1965. That cabinet included Trudeau, Turner, and Chretien, all of whom would take a turn as prime minister.

In this photo, Trudeau, born of privilege and educated at Harvard, the Institut d'√Čtudes Politiques de Paris, and London School of Economics, appears to be sharing a joke with Turner, alumnus of UBC, Oxford University, and the University of Paris.

Pearson, former diplomat in London and Washington, Nobel laureate, and now Prime Minister, is obviously in a good mood.

How should we interpret the fact that Chretien, who came from humble origins, and styled himself as the "little guy from Shawinigan," stands alone, observing? A bit awed by all these worldly, sophisticated gentlemen, perhaps? He would win three mandates and serve as "the boss" for 10 years.


  1. That's right. Political success depends on street smarts even more than formal education.

  2. Some people have a formal education but no social intelligence, which is something you need if you're going to connect with people. I usually don't know anything about the educational background of our politicians. And even when I do, it doesn't matter to me. If I can't connect with someone, doesn't matter what their social status was or is.