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TRUDEAU (article first published : 2007-02-22)

Pierre Elliott Trudeau was one of the most enigmatic and respected Prime Ministers in Canadian history. Now, the compelling story is told in a Hallmark mini-series that spans 15 turbulent years in Trudeau’s political and personal life. Trudeau takes viewers from the heady glow of “Trudeaumania” in the late 1960s to the high-stakes poker game that led to Canada’s Constitutional Agreement of 1982.

As Minister of Justice, Trudeau (Colm Feore, Chicago) dazzles the country with reforms that take the state out of the bedrooms of the nation. After staring down rioters at a St-Jean Baptiste parade, he is soon elected Prime Minister. But reality sets in with the challenges of governing the country.

Front de Libération du Quebec (FLQ) violence escalates, culminating in the Cross and Laporte kidnappings and the October Crisis. Then, defending that the principle that power comes from the ballot box, not the barrel of a gun, Trudeau invokes the War Measures Act, with the taunt “just watch me.” The people are shocked, wondering “is this the man we elected?”

On the home front, Trudeau’s marriage to Margaret (Polly Shannon, The Girl Next Door) begins to turn bitter. Losing his taste for the political fight, pragmatism and patronage replace Trudeau’s principles and ideals. In 1979, the country responds by throwing him out of office. Although he abandons Ottawa, Trudeau returns only a few months later to lead the country in the battle against René Lévesque and Quebec separatism in the May, 1980 referendum. Trudeau wins, but the cost is high – he promises constitutional reform. The story of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is one of control and compromise, breathtaking political brinkmanship and bitter recriminations.

Trudeau is the captivating story of a private man who lived a public life. A man who favoured reason over passion. A man who came to power almost reluctantly, an intellectual who had to learn to be a politician, paying a high personal and professional price for leading his country.

Trudeau can be seen on the Hallmark Channel on DStv on Fridays at 19:45 from February 23.




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