Today in Canadian History: birthdays and bum shields!

Today is an important day in the history of the Liberal Party of Canada. It marks the birthday of two prominent figures: the 15th Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Elliott Trudeau (in 1919), and Iona Campagnolo (in 1932), who served as a Member of Parliament (1974-79) and party president (1982-86). Campagnolo was also unwittingly involved in a minor political controversy in 1984 when cameras caught her old colleague - and Liberal party leader - John Turner patting her backside. As historian Paul Litt wrote in Elusive Destiny: The Political Vocation of John Napier Turner,

Turner had been warned about patting bums during the leadership race. The warnings didn’t register, because he thought he needed no advice on gender relations. There were a number of strong women in his life, and he treated them with respect. He encouraged women to enter politics and strongly endorsed women’s causes. When asked about the CTV clip, he remained unrepentant. ‘I’m a hugger ... I’m a tactile politician. I’m slapping people all over the place. That’s my style,’ he explained. ‘People are reaching out to me and I’m reaching out to them.’ And so he let the issue live on .... The media continued to broadcast the clips, generating editorials, cartoons, opinion pieces, and sly allusions in headlines. Feminists created a cardboard ‘Turner Bum Shield’ that got more media coverage than anything Turner said or did over the next few days.

Campagnolo would later serve as Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia (2001-2007). Following his life in politics, Trudeau spent his time working as a lawyer, being a father, writing some books, and canoeing. He passed away in 2000.