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GG: Gould and pacifism, and that's why I like Pierre Trudeau

Hiya Listers,

I don't know the specific answer to the question, "Was Glenn Gould a pacifist?"

BUT ... as I grow older, I find myself shocked more and more often that younger
people who wear the patina of being well-read and well-educated simply don't
know some things that were Very Big, even quite critical at the time. This is
just The Way of the World and I'm not grousing about it (oh, okay, I guess I am
-- insert the mutter "whippersnapper" here), but I'm wondering if time has
blurred a very important aspect of the political and cultural background of
Toronto during Glenn Gould's prime years.

Until the very last moments of America's second-longest war, its military
manpower (in this context, MANpower is the proper word) requirements were filled
by a draft/conscription. As the Vietnam War grew more and more unpopular in the
USA, more and more draft-age American men sought ways to evade it.

During these years the Canadian Prime Minister was Pierre Trudeau. Now it is one
thing for a parliamentary nation to have a very liberal, progressive PM, but
quite another to have him get his way in major, heated foreign-policy
controversies with The New Rome to the south, but remarkably Trudeau guided
Canada to a rare major disagreement with the USA -- Canada never sent troops to
fight in Vietnam; Canada simply "skipped" the whole mess.

As more and more American young men slipped across the border to evade the draft
and take up residence in Canada, the American government was impatiently waiting
for Canada's cooperation to arrest and return them to face felony charges. But
Trudeau employed a very interesting loophole. Although Canada and the USA have a
very active and intimate mutual criminal extradition treaty, Trudeau noted that
by this treaty, Canada did not have to return any USA citizen for a crime which
was not also a crime in Canada -- and at that time, Canada did not have military

So Canada did NOT take any measures to find and return American draft-evaders.
Moreover, Canada's immigration bureaucracy was surprisingly "understanding" in
granting permanent residence, work permits and, eventually, Canadian citizenship
to nearly all American draft-evaders who stayed. Historically, people like this
often become stateless, status-less, twilight-zone international drifters, but
Canada offered them full citizenship. Tens of thousands of them are now full
Canadian citizens, indistinguishable from others, except, perhaps, by lingering
accent. They neither wish to return to the USA, nor can they without facing
serious penalties. Just last year one was arrested south of the border (he was
trying to visit his ailing father), jailed, but eventually released. Officially,
the USA has forgiven and forgotten none of these men; a quarter-century later
all their names remain on border-crossing Hot Lists. (Few took advantage of a
very flawed and humiliating amnesty program during Jimmy Carter's presidency.)

Almost all the draft evaders from the eastern half of the USA initially made
their way to Toronto. My guess is the majority of them remained in or near
Toronto. Sadly for the men involved, but to Toronto's considerable benefit,
these are the kinds of tragic historical erruptions which give cities a new
infusion of international sophistication and diversity. In other words, the
USA's loss was very largely Toronto's gain.

These new Canadians -- almost all with some college under their belt when they
arrived, professionals in the making -- contributed a noticeable coloring to the
artistic, cultural, intellectual and musical life of Toronto in the decades
following their arrival. Doubtless Gould would have had more than passing
contact with and taken considerable notice of their presence on the Toronto
scene. It seems certain to me that whatever Gould's notions of pacifism and war
were, they were shaped and informed by his personal contact with this historical
phenomenon. I'm sure some of the more knowledgable Canadians on this list can
add insights of Gould's intersection with the Vietnam War refugees.

I'm among the last of the Vietnam-era American draftees. I detested the war, but
was determined not to let psychopaths in suits chase me out of my own country.
(Many of the leading psychos went to prison, one got fired from the presidency,
many are just plain dead and can't bother me anymore, and I'm :-) still here
just as much as I want to be.)

I always liked Canada, but after its welcome to my brothers during Trudeau's
administration, I love it with new, deep, personal feelings, as a nation which
"skipped" an entire useless and ghastly war, and made room for thousands of
decent, thoughtful men who wanted to skip it, too. I visit Canada often, and
each time I cross its border, I smile. Canada is by no means a committed
pacifist nation, but I'm convinced that even when it swings Conservative, its
leaders think much more carefully than American leaders do about committing its
uniformed young people to dubious overseas military adventures.

In my experience, the most famous of these Canadians on the cultural scene is
the folksinger Jesse Winchester, I think originally from Mississippi. In CBC
interviews, he has long maintained his thorough identification as a Canadian,
and his total lack of interest to return even briefly to the United States. I've
always loved and admired his work, before and after his relocation; Elton John
cites Winchester as his leading inspiration in developing his own stuff. From
the war years, Winchester's version of the traditional "Tell Me Why You Loved
Roosevelt" ends with this original verse:

Well in the year of 1967
A somewhat younger man
The call to bloody battle came
And I would not take my stand
'Cause I'm baptized by water
And I pass on the one by fire
But if you want to fight, go on and fight
If that be your desire
And that's why I like Pierre Trudeau
That's why I like Pierre Trudeau
That's why I like Pierre Trudeau
Good God Almighty, he's the poor man's friend!

Bob Merkin

PS ... did Glenn Gould end his sentences with "eh"?

Michael Arnowitt wrote:

> I recently listened to the two documentaries by Gould (one on Stokowski, one
> on Casals) released at the gathering in Toronto this past September.  In
> both, Gould places pretty near the beginning these artists' views on the
> need for a change in the world toward a viewpoint that I would describe as
> pacifist (defining pacifism as I do in the more broader sense as has been
> been elaborated in this century by Gandhi and many others in the nonviolence
> movement -- substitute another word if the term rubs you the wrong way).  In
> the Casals documentary Gould also includes some personal opinion by a Casals
> biographer criticizing the Vietnam war.
> I know Gould was a fanatic newspaper reader and so certainly followed world
> events.  Was he a pacifist, do you think, himself -- is it a coincidence
> that he put in both documentaries these anti-war viewpoints?
> As you can perhaps guess, I am a pacifist myself...so Casals and Stokowski's
> comments were quite moving to me, definitely not what you would expect to
> hear in a musician documentary.
> Michael