We have a gorgeous new Prime Minister and even though I no longer live in Canada, I have a sudden urge to show him off.

Chris Wattie/Reuters

Chris Wattie/Reuters

He’s young (43) and he’s inexperienced, but that shouldn’t be held against him.  We have known older, experienced world leaders who have proved themselves to be utterly inept while leading their countries to ruin.  It’s imperative, of course, that Trudeau surrounds himself with mandarins, the more brilliant and visionary the better.  It’ll be interesting to see how he handles himself on the world stage.  He has already called President Obama to confirm his decision to pull Canada out of the U.S.-led bombing campaign against ISIS militants in Syria and Iraq.  He’ll be leading the Canadian delegation to Paris for the World Climate Summit starting November 30th and I assume he’ll be reversing Stephen Harper’s damaging decision to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol in 2011.  By the way, Justin Trudeau speaks beautiful fluent French, I listened to his bilingual acceptance speech on YouTube.

Chris Wattie/Reuters

Chris Wattie/Reuters

When Trudeau, his wife and children move into the prime minister’s official residence in Ottawa, it will, in a way, be like coming home because he was born there on Christmas Day in 1971.  For those who don’t know, his flamboyant father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was Canada’s Prime Minister twice from 1968 to 1979 and then from 1980 to 1984.  Here are two iconic photos of him, one doing a naughty pirouette behind the Queen of England and the other sliding down the banister of Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier Hotel.

PET piroutte

Buckingham Palace, May 7, 1977. Known for his cavalier flamboyance, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau drove sport cars, dated celebrities and was also accused of using an obscenity during debate in the Canadian House of Commons. But his most controversial moment was when the photographer Doug Ball caught him spinning a pirouette behind an oblivious Queen Elizabeth during a G7 summit Conference in London, England. The picture expresses his maverick anti-conformism and his democratic disdain for aristocratic pomp.

PET slide

A lot has been printed about the demise of ex-Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his 9 years of destructive Conservative rule.  Destructive because Harper, schooled in right-wing philosophy and neo-liberalism at the University of Calgary, is a Neoconservative.  Canada doesn’t sit well under Neoconservative rule. 

I think Beth Kaplan summed up Trudeau’s victory best on her blog –

“I think of those movies where a subjugated people are freed from tyranny and emerge, dazed and disbelieving – are we actually free? And then – were we actually prisoners that long? That’s how Canada feels to me today. I think of Narnia under the spell of the ice queen, and how, when she was finally vanquished, spring returned. I know, Justin Trudeau as Aslan is a stretch … but you get the idea. We live in a different Canada today.

It was not just any victory – it was a monumental victory by a party that had been completely undone. But more importantly, the victorious leader is someone we have known all his life – at least, those of us old enough to remember his birth on Christmas Day 1971. We remember the love affair of his parents and its painful dissolution; we remember his father’s canoe trips and overseas junkets with Justin and his brothers. We remember, with great pain, the tragic death of his brother Michel and the subsequent death of his devastated father. If I ever want to conjure up a portrait of grief, I need only think of Pierre Trudeau’s drawn and haunted face the day of Michel’s funeral, and I weep.

We Canadians have watched this man grow up, and now I feel a maternal pride at what a fine upstanding man he has turned out to be. And – to tell you the truth – I feel something more than maternal, because he’s a treat to look at. But so are his gorgeous wife and their children. It’s like the early days of Barack Obama’s administration, when we felt liberated from the ugly shroud of the Bush years and rejoiced to look at idealism and beauty, intelligence and accomplishment.

I wrote once here about seeing a photo of Harper with his mother – he was trying to hug her, but he couldn’t actually touch her, his arms were sort of hanging nearby uselessly. There’s something seriously wrong with that man’s heart. But not with this man’s.”

Justin and his mother last night –

justin and mom

“I know there are tough days ahead, and that a certain disillusionment – as with Obama – is inevitable. But right now, we Canadians have our version of Camelot. And as the days grow cold and dark, that sunny face is a most welcome sight.”

Air France fury

photo credit Kenzo Tribouillard, Agence France Presse

all photo credits Kenzo Tribouillard, Agence France Presse

Who is this man and what is he doing?  He’s the Deputy Director of Human Resources and Labour Relations at Air France.  Why is he shirtless?  Because his shirt was ripped off this morning by furious Air France employees.  Why is he climbing a fence?  Because he’s desperately trying to escape an angry mob.

AF put this in

This morning, at 9:30 am, an Air France central committee meeting was held at its headquarters near Charles de Gaulle airport.  Executives met to finalize the latest restructuring plan involving the loss of 1,700 ground staff, 900 cabin crew and 300 pilots between now and 2017.  It was reported that several hundred employees, furious upon learning of the loss of of 2,900 jobs, stormed the meeting.  Senior managers were attacked and forced to flee.  This man below is the Vice-President of the Air France hub at Orly airport.

AF troisAF cinqAF quatreAF six

Air France, who merged with KLM in 2004, has been hard hit by the deregulation of the industry and the popularity of low-cost airlines. Increased competition from Middle Eastern rivals and budget airlines led the loss-making group to seek €1.8bn (£1.3bn) in savings. The company is also looking to close five long-haul routes and sell off 14 of its larger long-distance aircraft.

Sympathetic analysts pointed out that the physical violence, shocking and inexcusable as it was, paled in comparison to the psychological violence of being thrown out of work in a deep economic crisis by well-paid men in suits.

Drouot auction house


Decades ago I had a Parisian boyfriend named Raoul.  Raoul was a snob and a sophisticate and on Saturday afternoons he liked to meet up with his equally snobbish friends at Drouot  (like him, his friends were journalists at Reuters or AFP – Agence France Presse.)  I was invited to tag along.

I was far from being a sophisticate in those days.  Before Drouot, the only auctions I had attended were in country barns in rural Ontario (growing up, my family had a weekend farm east of Toronto.)

Raoul had a penchant for Persian and Oriental rugs.  These rugs below reminded me of him.

IMG_5106IMG_5108IMG_5107Look at these beautiful pressed flowers that are over a hundred years old.IMG_5112

Drouot is fun because anyone can just walk on in and attend the sales.  Entrance is free.  There are several rooms upstairs and sales occur simultaneously.  There’s a lot of activity and people milling around.  If you like beautiful, eclectic things and objects of historical value, I suggest that you go.  Sales usually start at 2 p.m.  Here below is the sale of postcards.  A few years ago, a postcard dated October 1899 and signed Guillaume Apollinaire sold for 8,000 euros.


You can also bid via telephone and internet.  Closest metro stop is Richelieu-Drouot on lines 8 and 9.