Opinion Column

Original Trudeaumania faded fast in B.C.

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

Justin Trudeau.

Justin Trudeau.

(Pierre) Trudeau had a minority government at the time ... to say his government was detested in the West would be no overstatement. — Ex-B.C. premier Dave Barrett on the former prime minister


Coming out of their weekend convention in Montreal, federal Liberals are already sure Justin Trudeaumania will carry them to power in the 2015 election.

With just two B.C. seats at present – Joyce Murray in Vancouver Quadra and Hedy Fry in Vancouver Centre – polls show there’s reason for optimism.

But while emotions run high, statistics don’t lie – and in B.C. the original 1968 Pierre Trudeau-mania faded astonishingly fast after that first giddy election.

What’s particularly important to remember is that despite Justin Trudeau’s shiny appeal, he did not hold a candle to his controversial father Pierre’s many accomplishments prior to entering politics.

Pierre Trudeau was a brilliant Quebec law professor, noted intellectual, editor and Liberal justice minister under prime minister Lester Pearson before becoming Canada’s leader himself. Like or loathe him, the Montreal native was impressive.

But despite that, he only once in five federal elections took a majority of B.C. seats – in his 1968 Trudeaumania campaign, where the Liberals won 16 seats and 41.8% of the vote, their high water mark in the last 46 years.

The New Democrats took seven seats and 32.6% of the ballots that year and the Progressive Conservatives were shut out with 18.9% of the vote.

Pierre Trudeau’s alienation of the West didn’t take long. By the 1972 election, he lost three-quarters of his B.C. MPs, winning just four seats, while the NDP took 11 seats at 35% and the PCs jumped back to eight seats.

In the 1974 election, Trudeau’s Liberals won only eight seats in B.C. then just one in 1979 as Joe Clark’s PCs won government. The Liberals were shut out entirely in the province in 1980, even though Trudeau regained majority power.

And thus Trudeaumania came to a whimpering close in B.C.

2015 is not 1968 or 1980 and the factors in next year’s contest will be very different than in the five federal elections Pierre Trudeau ran.

But it would be foolish to ignore the real voting results in B.C. under Pierre Trudeau, a superior politician to Justin Trudeau, and who still only once managed to convince most British Columbians he could be trusted to govern Canada.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read more at billtieleman.blogspot.comEmail: weststar@telus.net Twitter: @BillTieleman 


Would you vote for the federal Liberals in 2015 because of Justin Trudeau?

Reader's comments »

By adding a comment on the site, you accept our terms and conditions