The Campaigns

Last night’s launch of the five-part documentary series The Campaigns on CPAC was excellent. Entitled The Great Free Trade Debate the first episode covered the 1988 election featuring party leaders Brian Mulroney, John Turner and Ed Broadbent. Beginning with a recent campaign was wise; next Sunday’s goes all the way back to 1917.

In addition to excellent footage and production values, there were insightful interviews from various Mulroney spear-carriers including Harry Near, Hugh Segal and Marjorie LeBreton, all of whom told me things I didn’t know. For example, after Turner topped Mulroney in the debate, Norman Atkins advised Mulroney to hoist free trade as a campaign issue by telling voters he would hold a referendum later. The Prime Minister wisely rejected the idea. He would have looked foolish. After all, the election was the referendum.

The series, produced by Catherine Christie-Luff, looks at four other campaigns: 1917, 1945, 1968 and 1925-6. I was interviewed on the 1968 campaign wearing my hat as press secretary to Robert Stanfield even though my time with him didn’t begin until 1970. That episode airs December 15. Did I reveal any secrets? Tune in and see.

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