The man nobody knows

The man nobody knows

If Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau were consistent, which he certainly is not, he would have been camping out in front of the Parliament Buildings with the anti-war protesters instead of permitting his police to herd the demonstrators off the front lawn of all the people.

Mr. Trudeau boasts of being a pragmatist, which means lie takes them as they come, and plays them as he sees them.

When John Lennon and Yoko Ono came to call, the PM gave them the green light and 50 minutes of his time, which is more than he has given to most visiting heads of state or ministers of foreign cabinets.

A boost for peace and youth

The message brought by John and Yoko was peace, and since that happens to be Mr. Trudeau’s bag, too, they made sweet music together, and the tidings and photographs of this encounter flowed across the land and around the world, doing Mr. Trudeau’s peace Image no eiwof good In ‘ cer!3trr Ctrctc^

It didn’t hurt his youth image any, either.

So, okay. But how do you reconcile the Lennon caper with heaving the peace marchers off the Hill on Christmas Eve?

Their mission was the same as John Lennon’s,* except that they didn’t demand any of Mr. Trudeau’s time. He was off to go skindiving, and all the marchers wanted was a bit of tent space in the snow, a prospect that might have fazed even such determined demonstrators as John and Yoko.

In his earlier days, Mr. Trudeau was a determined tenter, but he has little time for such things now that he’s a full-fledged member of the jet set, flying the people’s jet.

Consistency, as we noted at the outset, has not been a mark of the Trudeau administration.

Just when the young people had him figured for a radical, he would do something conservative — so much so that the John-Yoko love-in was obviously designed to recover lost ground among the fuzzy-faced.

And just when it appeared that he would emphasize the imaginative side of government, he would cut back on projects involving the urban action centres, or the more exciting aspects of education or research.

Who ever would have figured him as a leader who would usher us into the Seventies with a message of austerity and playing it safe?

The trouble with Pierre Trudeau is not so much that he seeks to please everybody as that he doesn’t seem to give a damn for anybody.

He has firm ideas about what is right and what is wrong, but he seems not to care about attuning these ideas to the feelings of large segments of the Canadian people.

He has abundant courage, based not upon emotion eo much as a kind of cold logic that he applies to emotional problems.

His attitude on the monarchy is as much a case as his involvement with John and Yoko.

The monarchy is not a subject that stands up to the kind of chilly scrutiny that Mr. Trudeau brings to iL The great religions of the world would not stand up to that kind of scrutiny, either, demanding as they do a measure of belief from their adherents, be they Roman Catholics, Jews, Hindus, Moslems, or Mao-style Communists.

In his news conference this week, Mr. Trudeau said it isn’t the time just now to abolish the monarchy in Canada but added he didn’t know whether the time would come later in the Seventies.

Coming from the man who is the Queen’s principal Canadian adviser, that isn’t much of a statement, especially since he went on to weigh the relative merits of the monarchy and a presidential system, and said there would be a great deal of change coming because of the new values of the younger generation.

There are some, and I am among them, who would argue that it is part of Mr. Trudeau’s job to tell the younger generation about the values of the monarchical system because nobody else in authority seems willing to put that case forward.

The Crown lacks his approval

After all, if he was willing to put his seal of approval on John and Yoko Lennon, would it be so wrong for him to do the same for the institution he is sworn to serve?

But, instead, he comes out with mealy-mouthed statements implying that while he isn’t prepared to do away with the Crown just yet, the time is not far distant when it should go, though he doubts that he will be prime minister when the boom is lowered.

What all this indicates, I suppose, is that we do not know this complex man any better today than we did when he became prime minister.

Nobody knew him very well then.

And nobody knows him very well now.