Justin Trudeau, son of former PM/CFL fan, elected Prime Minister
Three things were prominent on social media Monday night: The Blue Jays (they won), Star Wars (the trailer is awesome), and the election: Canadians went to the polls for the 42nd time in history and came away with a new leader.
Democracy at work.
What does this have to do with the Canadian Football League? Justin’s father and former Prime Minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, became a regular Grey Cup attendee during some of Canada’s most turbulent times. During the 60s, there was an underground terrorist group called the FLQ which in 1969 was planting bombs all over Montreal right around the time we would now refer to as “The Road to the Grey Cup”.
In 1969, Canadian football was struggling in its birthplace of Quebec and the CFL had awarded the Grey Cup to Montreal to give the game a shot in the arm. That all sounds well and good but the big game soon became a target for the FLQ, as more than 30,000 people would be in attendance.
Despite the concerns from the rest of the league, the RCMP and the fans, the CFL went ahead with the game in Montreal in true Canadian fashion. With a beefed up security force, Prime Minister Trudeau even attended the game to witness Russ Jackson (in his final game) and the Ottawa Rough Riders defeat the Saskatchewan Roughriders 29-11 and of course improve on his ceremonial kickoff from the previous year.
No one was hurt and the Grey Cup united everything that is good in this country. Not even the NHL can bring Canadians together like the Canadian Football League. The documentary “Playing a Dangerous Game” released as a part of the Engraved on a Nation series during the 100th Grey Cup celebrations gives you the full story on the 57th Grey Cup.
The 57th Grey Cup wasn’t the only championship game that Pierre Trudeau used to show that we could come together, put our differences aside and celebrate our game – he was also there in 1970 to create some positive news after the scary October Crisis and to present the Alouettes with the trophy.
The Grey Cup reflects who we are as Canadians in the way that it both unites and divides us. It’s East vs. West. It’s Calgary Stampeders fans arriving in Toronto in 1948 to show those Easterners what Western Canada is all about. It’s in our DNA.
“Nothing brings Canadians together year after year, decade after decade, quite like the Grey Cup. Prime Minister Diefenbaker suggested that it was Canada’s greatest unifying force. It is more than a football game, though; it is a cultural phenomenon, one that is distinctly and intensely and proudly ours.”
We’re coming up on the 103rd edition of Canada’s fall tradition and do you know the only thing that prevented the Grey Cup from being presented? World War I. Yeah, a pretty legitimate reason. As I like to say: Over 100 Grey Cups and no lockouts.
It’s been kidnapped, broken, and played for in the snow, the mud and the fog. Russ Jackson played to win it despite unknowingly having a death threat over his head and the Hamilton Tigers even engraved themselves on the trophy for winning a game before the Grey Cup even existed. It’s just as resilient as Canadians are.
Could we see the Grey Cup and Prime Minister come together once again? I, for one, would like to see Justin Trudeau perform a ceremonial kickoff at the 105th Grey Cup in Ottawa as a part of the 150th Anniversary of Confederation Celebrations just like his father.
– written by Travis Currah
[And in case you missed anything, here are the highlights causing last night’s social media frenzy… – Ed.]