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October Crisis "Just Watch Me"

In: Historical Events

Submitted By brivs
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"Just watch me" is a phrase made famous by Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau on October 13, 1970, during the October Crisis. Pierre Trudeau, who had in previous years been a strong advocate of civil liberties, spoke of the need for drastic action to restore order in Quebec. When questioned by CBC reporter Tim Ralfe on how far he would go in the suspension of civil liberties to maintain order, Trudeau replied, "Well, just watch me." The reporter was trying to get Trudeau to explain why he would make Quebec into a military state. What good would it do? The reporter had his own idea about it and it was clear that he was making an effort to not be a “devil’s advocate” as Trudeau said to him at the very end of the video, (7:24) however, to try and make this situation debatable. The reporter is afraid that as a province they would lose their rights and freedom. He questions Trudeau, “Doesn’t it worry you that you have a town that has to resort to this kind of thing?” (0:31) It is clear that the reporter shows his worry and frustration by asking and doubting Trudeau’s in acting of the War Measures Act. The reporter expresses that he wants a more of a safer province by starting more of a heavier debate rather than an interview. Pierre Trudeau’s overall point to this interview is to show that he means business. Trudeau's firm conviction that "law and order in Canada" come first, and that there would be no bargaining with the kidnappers, won him new popularity in English Canada. When reporter Tim Ralfe asked him, “Sir, what is it with men and all these guns around here?” (0:04) Trudeau responds in a sarcastic tone, “Haven’t you noticed?” (0:08). This foreshadows how this interview will proceed. In the interview Trudeau explains how he as Prime Minister, sent in the army to protect politicians and important buildings. For Pierre Trudeau, a lifelong champion of individual rights, it was a defining moment for him. Trudeau displayed a firm determination. Trudeau says, " There's a lot of bleeding hearts around who don't like to see people with helmets and guns. All I can say is 'go ahead and bleed' but it's more important to keep law and order in this society than to be worried about weak-kneed people who don't like the looks of..." The reporter asks, "At what cost? How far would you go? To what extent?" and Trudeau tells him, "Well, just watch me." (6:03) This statement shows how passionate Trudeau’s conviction to ensure a safe and just and law abiding society. He demonstrates his lack of empathy for those who do not see the risk to public order and the need for the War Measures Act. First, citizens want safety but when he makes a hard decision and tries to fix the problem, there are people still who are angry and question his political judgment. He’s telling the reporter if you want a safe Quebec, this is what it takes. In democracies, the role of the journalist is supposed to inform the public debate so that the audience is well informed of the multiple perspectives of the issues. The role of politicians is to represent those who elected them and to ensure that the concerns of that electorate are listened to, considered, and, where appropriate, acted upon. In such a political system, the journalist should act on behalf of the audience to ensure that politicians do their job. The journalist should be exploring and covering the issues that most concern their readers and listeners. In doing so they should include a diversity of voices and political opinions in order to offer the richest and most complete coverage possible. This display that is put on by the reporter is an activist display. He shows it by his body language and tone. Throughout the whole interview, the reporter does not move one inch. He is firm and persistent with his thoughts. The reporter is committed to posing controversial, provocative questions that are on the minds of the public but have never been answered by the Prime Minister directly. His pointed questions are intended to provoke and prompt direct responses from the Prime Minister. Pierre Trudeau at a couple of points in the interview seems uncomfortable and stuck, for example he doesn’t keep eye contact with the reporter and he looks away while talking showing a smirk on his face portraying discomfort (0:30) and (0:38). The dynamic that Tim Ralfe and Pierre Trudeau had in the interview was desirable. It’s an iconic moment in history that is referenced in politics and studied for its meaning. It is desirable because politicians’ ideology should be transparent to the public and fully understood. This was a candid, unscripted and spontaneous interview that became a turning point in how the public understood the Prime Minister of Canada’s boundaries or not, on civil liberties. We understand from the end of the interview that the Prime Minister of Canada was silent on this issue, which makes this interview much more momentous.…...

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