July 24, 2017

If I Could Meet Any Historical Figure

Sir Winston Churchill is one of my favourite historical figures.

He was a spectacular orator, mobilizing the English language and sending it into battle during the Second World War. He gave the best defence of democracy I know – that it is the worst possible system of government, except for all the others. Churchill was also a creator of the Atlantic Charter, a document signed in Newfoundland waters in 1941 stating the war aims for the allies and laying the foundation for peace following WW2. He is a figure of great political significance.

So when people ask me which historical figure I would like to meet, Churchill is one of my top choices.

One of the things I’d ask him about is why he was on such bad terms with the famous playwright George Bernard Shaw. You see, there’s a story about how they disliked each other…

Shaw sent Churchill tickets to one of his plays that was opening in London, including a note that read, “Bring a friend, if you have one”. Churchill replied by way of another note, “I can’t make it on the first night but I’ll come on the second – if it has one”. Pretty funny!

Even though they appear to be adversaries, their insults were comical and light. It reminds me of my father’s banter with his political adversaries like Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien. There’s nothing wrong with a little humour in politics!

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