Justin Trudeau is right Americans do not look beyond their country or else they would not have mistaken actress Kim Cattrall for his mother, Margret Trudeau. That was exactly what CBS News’ 60 Minutes program did on Sunday evening, March 6, 2016, when they aired their big profile of the Canadian Prime Minister. The profile was supposed to be American’s major introduction to the Canadian leader ahead of his formal White House meeting and state dinner with President Barack Obama on Thursday, March 10.
The 60 Minutes segment was a short biography of the Prime Minister, with interviews by correspondent Lara Logan with Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau. The interview included footage of Trudeau in Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, his favorite boxing gym in Montreal, Quebec, his familial hometown, and at the annual Quebec City winter carnival with his family. The segment also included the “2012 charity boxing match against suspended Senator Patrick Brazeau,” which seems to fascinate American viewers. Since Trudeau was elected last October, Americans have been overcome by the second wave of Trudeaumania. They are fascinated by the young, good-looking prime minister and his equally attractive wife and family.
The 13-minute segment included his familial past his father former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s legacy. Trudeau was Prime Minister from April 20, 1968, to June 4, 1979, and resumed office from March 3, 1980, to June 30, 1984. His father’s short but much-publicized marriage to Trudeau’s mother Margret Trudeau who was over 20 years his junior. The Trudeaus married in 1971 but after three sons six years later they divorced.
Talking about Trudeau’s parents 60 Minutes instead showed a black and white picture of the elder Trudeau with Sex and the City actress Kim Cattrall. The photo was from 1981 after the PM’s parents already divorced. Trudeau dated the then 24-year-old actress briefly, the photo used was from the 1981 Gemini Awards. Cattrall once recounted to a Trudeau biographer, “He was so incredibly sexy. He was very soft-spoken, incredibly smart, sensitive.” Cattrall was just one of the many young actresses the prime minister dated before and after his marriage.
Canadian had a field day on Twitter with the long-running new program enormous research and factual blunder. One person on used Trudeau’s controversial comment about Americans to emphasize the program’s error with the photo, writing, “Seems like Americans really do need to “pay a little more attention to Canada.” Really @60Minutes? Kim Cattrall?” The British-born Canadian-raised actress took it all well, joking on Twitter, “@JustinTrudeau @SixtyMinutes I have a son who is the Prime Minister of Canada? I couldn’t b more proud.”
The interview and segment, which was mostly a puff piece but did touch on some serious issues, touched on Trudeau’s relationship with father, showing Trudeau giving the eulogy in 2000 at his father’s funeral. Trudeau also recounted being 27-years old and asking his father “What do I need to know to go into politics?” Trudeau recounted it was an awkward conversation, “It didn’t work because everything that he had to teach me about being a good politician, he’d already given me about being a good person. About being a good teacher. About being a good citizen.”
As a teenager, Trudeau struggled to live up to his father’s accomplishment even considering dropping out of high school. The Prime Minster recounted to Logan, “I was on a track that was going to be all about high achieving. I hadn’t really realized that it was very much about following in my father’s footsteps and I had a bit of breakdown, where I just realized this wasn’t my track. This wasn’t being true to me and I was lined up to try and emulate my father’s success in a way that wasn’t suited to the kind of person I am.”
Coming from a political family Trudeau had a very untraditional path to leading a country. Logan pointed out in eight years he came “from zero to prime minister,” having been a “snowboard instructor, nightclub bouncer, whitewater river guide and teacher” Trudeau replied, “I make no apologies for a very varied set of life experiences…. Things fell into place and there was an opportunity for fresh leadership. And, I was successful.”
The segment delved into some of Trudeau’s policies and accomplishments since taking office at the beginning of November. Topics included his controversial Syrian refugee program, which brought 25,000 immigrants to Canada in a matter of three months, and his decision to withdraw Canada from the military fight against terrorist group ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Both left Trudeau defending his decisions.
The profile’s biggest interest seemed to be the personal. The segment discussed his time growing up as the eldest son of the Canadian prime minister and his young wife. Trudeau did not learn until his twenties that his mother suffered from mental illness particularly depression, “It was never talked about, it was never addressed. It was just hushed and pushed aside.”
Meanwhile, his wife Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau discussed her first date with Trudeau after knowing him since childhood, having gone to school with his younger brother Michel. Years later, they co-hosted a charity event, and she recounted their relationship “started from there.” Trudeau described their first date which happened after his brother died skiing from an avalanche in British Columbia. She recounted, “I said, ‘Is everything OK?’ And he said, ‘I’m 31 years old, and I’ve been waiting for you 31 years.’ There’s nothing more to be said. We’ve been together ever since.”
Trudeau’s most controversial remark of the whole interview was his criticism of Americans narrow worldview, “Because you can’t be Canadian without being aware of at least one other country, the United States, because it’s so important to us. I think we sometimes like to think that, you know, Americans will pay attention to us from time to time, too.” Trudeau was right if they had known more about Canada including the subject of their profile they would never have made the error attributing Cattrall as his mother.