Okay, this is a little self indulgent. For those of you who aren't up
on the big story here in Canada, our former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot
Trudeau died in his sleep yesterday at about 3 pm. Bartlett's speech is
patterned after, but not copied, from Clinton's condolences yesterday.
Thursday, September 28, 2000
It was the middle of the afternnon and most of the staff was
a little bored. There wasn't anything particularly pressing
going on, other than a lot of inflammatory rhetoric from the mid
term election candidates. The staff had met in the Oval Office
to discuss the latest idoicy from the Lillianfield camp and see
if there was anything to be concerned about.
"Too bad he isn't up for reelection this year." Josh mused.
"If we could field a really top notch candidate against him..."
"Josh, if Lillianfield was dead, he'd still get elected."
Toby pointed out, without much exaggeration. "He's got his seat
sewn up in perpetuity."
"How is that possible?" Josh exclaimed. "Why can't members
of Congress be limited to two terms, like the President?"
"It's called democracy, Josh. No matter how much we hate
Lillianfield, his constituents have a right to vote him in."
"Okay, then why can't the president hold office as long as
he wants?" Josh argued.
"Because no one sane would want this job for more than two
terms." Bartlett pointed out dryly. The phone rang and he
picked it up. As he took the call, the rest of the staff talked
about the latest slur against the Democratic party.
"I think it would help to have the President to do some
photo ops with O'Herlihy and Steiner." Mandy said, consulting
her notes. "They could use a push and both of them are firm
supporters of our education and health care policies."
"Good. Put that on the agenda for Saturday." Leo said,
making notes. "We can have the President attend the opening of
the new park in West Viurginia with them."
"Hold on." Bartlett said, punching another button on the
phone. "Mrs. Landingham, could you come in here for a moment?"
Mrs. Landingham entered quietly. She looked sad.
"Yes, Mr. President?"
"Mrs. Landingham, would you let Air Force One know that I'll
be flying to Montreal sometime in the next few days? Make sure
my funeral suit is dry cleaned and call Abbey and tell her we're
going to a funeral as soon as I know when it is?" Bartlett
"Yes, sir." Mrs. Landingham left.
"You're going to Canada?" Leo asked, puzzled.
"Yes." Bartlett sat down and picked up a pen. "Toby, I
need you to write me a condolence speech. Make it short, but
good. I need it as soon as possible."
"For whom?" Toby asked quietly.
"Pierre Trudeau died this afternoon." Bartlett said
quietly. "The funeral arrangements haven't been set yet, but I
suspect I'll be going."
"Sir, maybe I'm a total idiot, but who is Pierre Trudeau and
why are you going to his funeral?"
"Yes, you are a total idiot, Josh." Toby answered for the
president. "The Right Honourable Pierre Trudeau was the former
Prime Minister of Canada. I had heard he was not well."
"He was eighty, Toby and he lost his youngest son two years
ago." Bartlett nodded. "Did you ever meet Pierre Trudeau?"
"Once, Sir. I was at the ceremony where he was awarded the
Albert Einstein prize." Toby replied. "He was a remarkable
"Yes, he was. Richard Nixon once called him a son of a
bitch." Bartlett said, with a half smile. "He was one of the
greatest politicians Canada ever produced. I'm just glad he was
out of office when I was elected. He'd scare the pants off me.
Did you know he once intimidated Indira Gandhi?"
"Yes, I did, Sir." Toby smiled. "I'll have the note for
you in a few hours."
"A funeral." Josh grumbled on the way back to his office.
"We're in the middle of midterm elections and he wants to go to a
"He has to go, Josh." Leo pointed out. "We can't offend
Canada by not attending the funeral of one of their Prime
"Offend Canada? Leo, how can we possibly offend Canada?"
"Actually, Josh, some people think we do that on a regular
basis." Sam piped in. "Many Canadians feel that we treat them
as nothing more than an adjuct of the United States, instead of a
"Oh, come on." Josh rolled his eyes. "Canada is not that
important. It's ice and snow and hockey players."
"Actually, Josh, it is." Leo was dead serious. "Canada is
our largest trading partner and, as it currently stands, we are
in a trade deficit with Canada to the tune of twenty seven
billion dollars. Hardly unimportant."
"Not to mention the most significant political figure in
Canadian history has just died." Toby added. "The President has
to go to the funeral."
"Have you thought of what you're going to say, Toby?" Sam
"I think I want to mention that Mr. Trudeau was largely
responsible for the unique position Canada holds in international
affairs." Toby said quietly.
"Which would be?" Josh challenged.
"Trust." Toby replied. "Canada has a reputation for being
trustworthy and honest in its international dealings. Would that
we had such a reputation." With that, Toby went into his office.
A few hours later, Bartlett stepped up the to the podium for
a very quick announcement.
"I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of the Right
Honourable Pierre Elliot Trudeau today. Mr. Trudeau, in his
sixteen years in office, transformed the Canadian political
landscape, almost singlehandedly creating the unique position
Canada holds in international affairs. We send our condolences
to his family and to the Canadian people upon his passing.
Although I did not have the opportunity to meet Mr. Trudeau, I
have long admired his courage, his accomplishments and his vision
of a strong and vibrant nation. The American people's hearts go
out to the family, in particular, Mr. Trudeau's sons, Justin and
Sacha. Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time."
Pierre Elliot Trudeau - 1919 - 2000.