Last night was the official launch of Thumper: The Memoirs of Donald S. Macdonald (McGill-Queen’s University Press). Of all the cabinet ministers in the Pierre Trudeau government, Don was the most powerful. His portfolios included House Leader when the rules changed, Defence during the War Measures Act, Energy when oil costs quadrupled, and Finance when he imposed wage and price controls.
After leaving government, he chaired the Royal Commission that led to free trade, was High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, and served on a number of corporate boards including Scotiabank and Sun Life. Don and his wife Adrian both spoke, as did Rob Prichard, former president of the University of Toronto, and now chairman of Bank of Montreal. Emcee was Janice Stein, director of the Munk School of Global Affairs. The Toronto event was held in one of the Munk buildings, the Observatory, and was sponsored by the Trudeau Centre for Peace, Conflict and Justice.
The more than 125 attendees included Hal Jackman, former Ontario lieutenant governor; former Liberal cabinet ministers David Collenette and Roy MacLaren; former Ontario Treasurer Darcy McKeough and his wife Joyce; media heavyweights Andrew Coyne, Steve Paikin, Stephen LeDrew and Allan Fotheringam; authors John English, Joe Martin, Susan Papp and Mary Janigan; friends who helped Don with the book at earlier stages including Peter Rehak and Robert Lewis; and business leaders Gordon Eberts, Don Johnston and Jim Fleck.
Members of Don and Adrian’s extended family who were there included, from Adrian’s side: Elisabeth, Amanda, Adrian, Gregory and Andrew; from Donald’s: Sonya, Leigh and Althea; plus about half of their 15 grandchildren. Also on hand were my own daughter Dr. Alison McQueen and her partner Dr. Ken Cruikshank as well as my son Mark, his wife Andrea, and their two children.
Book launches of memoirs are a particular celebration, because they cover an entire life. Don had been writing his memoirs for half a dozen years before I was asked to help. And it then took another two years to go through archival material and finalize everything. Sonya told me that she’d started reading the book while flying from Ottawa and had to stop at page 56 because she’d been laughing and crying so much. Certainly, the book was popular last night. The U of T Bookstore table sold 131 copies.