A paler shade of red

Reading Trudeau from the left

In 1965, mere months before beginning his meteoric rise in Canadian federal politics by running as a Liberal candidate in Mount-Royal, Pierre Elliott Trudeau met with NDP supporter and J.S. Woodsworth biographer Kenneth McNaught. While entreaties are said to have continued up to the very moment before he threw in his lot with the Liberals, this exchange probably represents one of the last serious attempts to coax Trudeau in the socialist fold. Recalled McNaught:

Our discussion slowly focused on whether or not he should formalize the socialism that had clearly informed his essay [referring to a contribution Trudeau had made to the 1961 collection, “A Social Purpose for Canada”]. Somewhat euphoric, I ticked off a half-dozen of the main CCF planks; after each Pierre said simply, ‘d’accord.’ At the end of this arrogant catechism I said I had a party membership card and would he care to sign...