“Just watch me”

Line spoken by Pierre Trudeau1 in a remarkable, spontaneous on-camera exchange2 with then-CBC journalist Tim Ralfe, during the height of the 1970 October Crisis. It remains one of the most dramatic and riveting moments in Canadian political history.

Through the succeeding years, the phrase has been invoked to capture Trudeau’s determined, often pugnacious stance on issues of importance to him, such as the patriation of the Constitution in the early eighties. It is sometimes used more broadly, as shorthand for Trudeau’s insouciance or perceived political exhibitionism.

The actual exchange took place outside the West Door entrance of the Centre Block of Parliament Hill on October 13, 1970, as Ralfe confronted the PM with concerns regarding the October Crisis. Three days later, Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act.

“Just Watch Me” was used as the title of journalist Larry Zolf’s 1984 book on the Trudeau years.

Image Source: Screen Capture, CBC Digital Archives

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