It is a form of masochism to be drawn to the obituaries these days. Too many of the good ones have gone to their reward—such as it might be. I have only one story about Paul Hellyer that helps explain the complexities of politics in Canada. Politics frustrated Paul. He was a man of deep convictions—in his politics, in his religion, in his family and in his many other interests.
It was in December 1967 and Paul had announced that he was running to replace Lester Pearson as leader of the liberal party and prime minister. The official announcement was in one of the large meeting rooms at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. There were about a thousand liberals milling around us as Paul and I stood in the middle of the room, deep in conversation.
There were more than a few people there watching us. They each had a different idea of what we were talking about. They were all wrong.
Paul was much taller than I, he would have had his head down to be sure I could hear him. Believe me, it was no prayer meeting. Paul was leaving on a winter holiday after the Royal York event. We were standing there chatting about the wonders of Tahiti where Paul was headed. We never mentioned what others expected us to discuss.
Paul’s executive assistant had probably had to brief Paul on the fly as were most briefings. He wanted me to run the coming leadership convention set-up for Paul. The minister was expected to close on the agreement. He forgot. He had visions of Tahiti to consider.
The person most pleased with Paul and I’s tourism discussion was the president of the Ontario liberal party. He wanted me to run industry minister Bob Winter’s convention organization. Which I did.
Of course, Pierre Trudeau announced his candidacy shortly after. We had a fun campaign for Bob Winters but it was Pierre Trudeau who enjoyed the victory party that I had planned.
Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry
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