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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The honourable member for Vimy Ridge

Eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed that Justin Trudeau played a featured role in The Great War, a two-part "docudama" miniseries that aired Sunday and Monday on the CBC. The air dates of the miniseries were intended to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Mr. Trudeau, making his acting debut, played Talbot Papineau, a Miltary Cross winning war hero.

The miniseries featured 150 Canadians who were descended from First World War solidiers, re-enacting what their ancestors experienced in various battle scenes. A Canadian Press story which ran in weekend newspapers (which you may read online at http://www.canada.com/topics/entertainment/story.html?id=78a4e114-dc2a-4e05-bceb-15cd0ea20f20&k=31604) noted, however, that Mr. Trudeau, although a great-nephew of a solider who died on the Western Front, is not a descendant of Papineau.

You may think it odd that Mr. Trudeau was given such a plum part when the "rules"of the miniseries implied that the actors should re-enact what their ancestors did. So did Edmonton Sun readers. This led the newspaper to ask (http://www.edmontonsun.com/Entertainment/Weekend/2007/04/06/3934112-sun.html) producer Brian McKenna why Trudeau got the part. For the publicity, McKenna says. I find it his explanation that they could not find a suitable professional actor for the Papineau part hard to believe, but you may wish to give him the benefit of the doubt.

There has been speculation since the Pierre Trudeau funeral that his sons would follow him politics. Mr. McKenna, or his superiors, must have thought through the ramifications of having a future politician in his miniseries.

It's interesting to see that a probable future MP, who could vote on matters affecting the CBC, was not asked to portray a coward or deserter. (As long as he was playing someone he was not related to--and his role was not ostensibly supposed to have any real impact on how people think of Mr. Trudeau in real life--such a part might have been a brave choice for a new actor.)

Mr. Trudeau will have an extra name recognition advantage now as his Bloc Quebecois and Tory opponents will have to say "Mr. Trudeau is not a war hero. He just plays one on TV." How does Mr. McKenna suggest that Mr. Trudeau's rivals explain this to  voters?

Did Mr. McKenna offer some parts to aspiring Bloc, NDP or Tory politicians? In a group of 150 decendants there should be perhaps one or two, right? Or is the probable future Liberal MP the only politician in the cast? Why?

It was very possible, had the government fallen in a budget vote,  that Mr. Trudeau would have been on the campaign trail when the miniseries aired. Would the CBC have been able to cut or trim Mr. Trudeau's part had that happened? (And why not have Mr. Trudeau re-enact what his ancestor did instead--a smaller cameo role which would have garnered the necessary publicity for the show, but could have been easily trimmed had Trudeau already been an MP or a Liberal cabinet minister when the program aired?)

One question almost answers itself. Had Justin been named Stanfield or Diefenbaker, some of these possible issues would have been raised internally by the CBC,  and could have disqualified him from appearing in the program.  Count on that.

Posted by Rick Hiebert on April 11, 2007 in Television | Permalink


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Please don't ever mention that name again. It even upsets my house pet.

Posted by: Ralph Rattfuc | 2007-04-11 9:59:57 AM

"It's interesting to see that a probable future MP, who could vote on matters affecting the CBC, was not asked to portray a coward or deserter."

I didn't see the miniseries, but I would be surprised if there were prominent portrayals of ANYONE who was a coward or a deserter. I thought the point of the show was to honour the accomplishment of war heroes, and so depicting some as cowards or deserters would go against that. Did the miniseries actually feature people who were cowards or deserters? If so, it sounds like a strange decision. If not, it would explain why Trudeau was not offered such a role.

Posted by: Mark Logan | 2007-04-11 10:20:37 AM

I wonder what's going on for a week. Seems not many very sensitive post although Rick Hiebert use to post politically incorrect info!

Posted by: Rémi Houle | 2007-04-11 10:25:01 AM

This is just another reason why the CBC and the Nazi Film Board should be disbanded. These institutions produced the Nazi apologist "documentary" called "The Valor and the Horror" several years ago. Little was done to bring the McKennas to atone for their sympathy for the Nazis - yes the Nazis DO have things to be ashamed of for what they did in the war - like the Holocaust (although being Ontarians they don't believe in the Holocaust, and the subject will soon be dropped from Ontario' schools as Zionist propaganda.

Despite receiving taxpayers' money, these institutions serve only their own interests. Time to reign them in or disband them entirely. My aim is for the latter.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2007-04-11 12:31:43 PM

In fact former PM Pierre Elliott Trudeau along with most of his classmates served in the Canadian Officer's Training Corps in 1940, which like all University students of the period they were compelled to do under the provisions of the National Registration Act. Larry Zolf pointed out that Trudeau would have served in a Quebec Regiment if his Father had lived - but Trudeau like many Quebecers of the period opposed the War, but were engerized by the fall of France which they found hard to believe. Does not matter in any event. Young Mr. Trudeau looks like Captain Talbot Papineau MC, who was a well known French Canadian War Hero of World War I - I do not watch the CBC in any event, but I am always apprehensive about anything the McKenna Brothers produce. MacLeod

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2007-04-11 12:59:25 PM

My dad's dad fought Riel in the 1885 North West Rebellion. My mom's dad fought in the Dardenelles and was killed by Turkish machine gunners while disembarking from the the River Clyde. I had cousins die by German guns in World War 1. Now I and my French/German/Turkish - even Muslim - relatives have moved on. People like the McKennas appear incapable of dropping their apparent bigotry. Too bad. Maybe they just have a different perspective of history.

Posted by: dewp | 2007-04-11 9:51:04 PM

I did not watch the show because Trudeau was in it.

Posted by: philanthropist | 2007-04-11 11:47:57 PM

I did not watch the show, because while contemplating watching it, my cat was sick, as expressed in the following:

Quick! Quick!
The cat has been sick!

Under the chair!

Fetch the basin!

The CBC has made another awful mistake!

Posted by: Lady | 2007-04-12 6:52:35 PM

hmmm is this the same family where pierre trudeau used his money and influence to escape going overseas during the second world war. and his son is portraying himself as a patriot. ok

Posted by: john a | 2007-04-13 11:09:32 PM

What's truly tragic is that some see Trudeau as a hero, when in fact he was a heartless tyrant. Remember the Attack on Quebec in 1970 and the Attack on Alberta in 1980!

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2007-04-14 12:22:34 AM

Justin Trudeau playing a soldier is nothing more than poetic license.
Nothing to fret about, he'll never be called upon to save us as a real soldier. He looked pretty silly in one shot, resembling Hitler with a rather stupid application of a mustache.

On a more serious front he plans to enter politics, run in a riding which is comprised of folks who are more economically disadvantaged. No doubt he'll be able to relate to them!!

Posted by: LizJ | 2007-04-14 5:13:51 AM

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