2 MEN, AND ONE GIRL
A filmmaker tells the story of an epic love triangle — with Miss Canada and Pierre Trudeau,
OK: so you’re a cocky young guy of 22 and you think you’re pretty hot stuff because when you walk into a room with your brand-new girlfriend Julie Maloney, Miss Canada — baddaboom, baddabing! — every eye in the place is on you and she only has eyes for you. Or so you think. One day, a little embarrassed, she points out she started dating this other guy before I entered the picture. “Nothing’s settled, and you and I can still date and everything but … I wanted to be honest with you.”
My rival? No less than the prime minister of Canada, fabled world-beating, lady-killing, fuddle-duddling Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
The year is 1970. Besides being the world’s most charismatic and chronicled head of state, PET is one of the hottest bachelors on the planet. Has his pick of a universe of babes: actress Margot Kidder, glam guitarist Liona Boyd. He has just brought Barbra Streisand to Ottawa as his date for an event at the National Arts Centre. But despite Streisand and the rest, despite being 50 to Julie’s19, he is, nonetheless, also after my girl.
I could completely understand why he would be interested in Julie. An Ottawa girl, she was gorgeous, smart and funny. And charmingly unpretentious. She turned down the offer from a wealthy Miss Canada sponsor of luxurious private quarters in his Bridle Path mansion. It was a carefully guarded secret at pageant HQ, but for her entire Miss Canada reign the glamorous beauty queen slept in her brother’s onebedroom Toronto apartment, on his couch.
Julie swears her heart belongs to me. And that I should just chill about those newspaper shots of her dancing the night away with Trudeau — that I translate loosely as “Waterhole,” the name that in my jealous pique/crazed competitiveness I will call him from now on — at a state dinner party for Prince Charles. She dances with Charles, too. And with hockey great Bobby Orr. She swears it’s just part of her gig as Miss Canada.
But I brood. I imagine having it out with Pete Waterhole in person. Alone. Man to man: just me and the prime minister of Canada.
And suddenly, fate throws him my way. Unexpectedly, Trudeau agrees to appear on Under Attack, a campus confrontation television show I was producing.
On the morning of the taping at Carleton University, I am wondering whether to prep him for the program or punch him out, when the RCMP summon me to an urgent meeting.
I freeze: have they got wind of what I’m thinking? But no. They have information that the campus Maoists are planning to sabotage the videotaping: “They will be sitting throughout the audience and when the prime minister speaks, they’re going to stomp their feet in unison — boom! boom! boom! — to try and drown him out.” What did I intend to do about it?
What did I intend to do about it? They were the RCMP. I was not a serious person, just a 22-year-old actor trying to transition into TV production. A few months earlier, I had appeared in a nude love scene at the Cannes Film Festival! Trudeau had the armed forces, the RCMP, the Ottawa police — but I had to deal with insurrection?
That night Trudeau arrived for taping in his floorlength green leather coat and a scarf nearly as long, flung over his shoulder. He was tense, coiled very tight, clearly aware of the Maoist threat.
I led him to the makeup room where the gorgeous cosmetician bent over him, a little too close: “Sir, what would you like me to do to you?”
Straight-faced, he patted the sparse growth on his scalp: “Errrr, give me a full head of hair like this guy,” he said, nodding at me, “and, errrr, give me back, oh,10 or 20 years. C’est tout.”
He actually winked at me. Don’t try to charm me, Waterhole. How’d you like a knuckle sandwich?
But there was no time to get personal. Out in the auditorium, things were getting ugly. That year, the Carleton campus, like most others, was boiling with anti-establishment rage. When the doors opened hundreds of students poured in, loaded for bear, pushing past security, disregarding the signs, spilling into seats reserved for the PMO.
I stepped up to the mic with a desperate plan to defuse the stompers: I told the students that to address the PM they must use the two microphones specially set up in the aisles: “But I must warn you. These are tricky microphones. They have a very limited range — you have to be so close you’re almost kissing the mic. More than three inches from the mic and we hear nothing: Zip. Zero. Zilch. It’s dead air. Any extraneous sounds will be lost.”
(In truth the mics would pick up everything, especially any stomping. I just prayed none of the Maoists was an audio buff.)
As the taping began, we breathlessly waited for the crucial test, Trudeau’s first answer. He cracked a joke, the students laughed. We waited for the stomping … but nobody stomped. They had bought it. The old wizard, charming and funny, won the students over. The protest turned into a love-in. At the end they gave him a standing ovation.
Boy, I really showed him. I had handed my rival a fabulous showcase, maybe his best ever. The Toronto Star’s TV critic Pat Scott called it: “A virtuoso performance … His choice of Under Attack as a podium was a calculated risk … (but) Trudeau made it the most effective single podium he has found on television.”
Trudeau slipped away after the taping before I could settle my scores.
I suppose you’re wondering about Julie and me. As a matter of fact, I won. Waterhole married someone else and Julie and I continued dating. What changed her mind? Well, she never actually said so, not in so many words … but I’m pretty certain it was the October Crisis later that year that did it. As I pointed out to Julie, faced with civil unrest, Waterhole brought out the army. I reminded her how differently I had dealt with civil unrest, faced with it the night of the Under Attack taping: the RCMP came to me for help.
“Real men don’t need to call out the army,” I told her. I am not 100 per cent certain, but I think she was pretty impressed.
A young Prince Charles dances during a state dinner party in July 1970, while Miss Caanda Julie Maloney chats with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau..
John Kastner with Maloney in Inuvik, N.W.T. Pierre Trudeau, whom the Miss Canada winner had also dated, appeared on Kastner’s TV show.