Common Ground

Because one of my daughters has been going to school in Canada, I was aware that the Liberal party candidate, Justin Trudeau, had ousted the Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, in the Canadian election last October. His name was familiar to me because his father, Pierre Trudeau, was Prime Minister when I was a child. (My very first pen-pal lived in Montreal. My adventurous parents had loaded three kids into a station wagon, pulling a pop-up tent camper, and had driven from Kentucky to M Because one of my daughters has been going to school in Canada, I was aware that the Liberal party candidate, Justin Trudeau, had ousted the Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, in the Canadian election last October. His name was familiar to me because his father, Pierre Trudeau, was Prime Minister when I was a child. (My very first pen-pal lived in Montreal. My adventurous parents had loaded three kids into a station wagon, pulling a pop-up tent camper, and had driven from Kentucky to Montreal for Expo '67. I met my pen-pal that summer and we spent a day at the Expo together. When you have a pen-pal, that is, when you come to know someone in another country, that country is always of interest to you. Thus, when Pierre Trudeau became Prime Minister the following year, in 1968, I noticed. Even though I was young, I do remember that he was considered to be an intellectual and that he married a beautiful, much younger woman.) I watched the very brief (by US standards) campaign last year and wondered if Canadians were as prone to political dynasties as Americans appear to be. When I started to read more about young Mr. Trudeau and what he stood for, I thought, "wow, this guy sounds quite sensible". Then Mr. Trudeau visited President Obama last month and I decided to find out more about the guy, especially after some Americans half-jokingly asked him if the USA couldn't just share him with Canada, make him a sort of

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leader of both countries. I wanted to learn a bit more about him and this book filled the bill. It is a pretty straight-forward account of his life up through 2014, which would just pre-date his election as Prime Minister. There is quite a bit in the last quarter of the book about Canadian politics, with mention of many names with which I was unfamiliar, but all-in-all it was a beneficial read in helping me find out more about what's going on with our neighbor up north. Once more, I have such admiration for Canadians. While the US election cycle has been one of the most shrill and bizarre I can remember, Mr. Trudeau seeks to find, as the title of his book proclaims, "common ground". Mr. Trudeau had so many advantages growing up. He met some major world figures (Margaret Thatcher, President Reagan, Princess Diana, among others) when he was quite young. But his childhood had challenges too. There was a nearly thirty year difference in his parents' ages and his mother, who was diagnosed years later with bipolar disorder, left the family when her three sons were still young. He does note that while his parents' relationship with each other didn't work, both were very caring parents and the three brothers spent time with each parent. Mr. Trudeau lost one of his brothers, Michel, who was killed in an avalanche while skiing in Canada, and he reflects on that sorrow. Mr. Trudeau also held some very diverse jobs, such as school teacher and bar bouncer, before getting into politics. Oh yes, and he is fluent in French, is a boxer, and practices yoga. He is an intriguing and apparently charismatic fellow, but this autobiography is modest and direct. I came away with the impression that the experience-rich background his life has afforded had formed a well-rounded leader and it made me a little envious of our northern neighbors.If you google his name, you will find loads of articles, but I thought this one was generally informative:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/mag...


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Category: Review

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