“Welcome to the eighties”

Well, welcome to the nineteen-eighties” was the opening line of Pierre Trudeau’s February 18, 1980 victory speech after the Liberals romped back to power just nine months after losing the 1979 election to Joe Clark’s Progressive Conservatives.

The astonishing electoral turnaround capped a period that saw Trudeau resign and return as Liberal Leader, and Clark fumble the delicate politics of minority parliaments.

Trudeau’s “welcome to the eighties” opener is cited by his admirers as an example of his unerring gift for the mot juste to capture the political moment. Critics have been more apt to see it as a case of Liberal arrogance and entitlement – as, now that the Liberals were restored, the decade (already six weeks old) could now get properly underway.

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