“I think there’s a lot that we can learn about what works and what doesn’t work from studying the results of (Pierre Elliot) Trudeau’s career,” says West Wellington author, historian and policy consultant, Bob Plamondon. Popular yet controversial – just like its subject who is consistently ranked as both Canada’s most favourite and least favourite Canadian – The Truth about Trudeau has garnered Plamondon interviews in newspapers, on political shows across the country.
“The book isn’t a rant and I don’t look at his personal life,” says Plamondon, who hopes his book will spark a genre of evidence-based examinations of the careers and policies of our politicians so that we can learn what has and hasn’t work. “There are a lot of memoires,” he says. But not a lot of books focused on reviewing policies.
The Prime Minister’s support for immigration is one of the many myths about Trudeau that Plamondon examines. Under Trudeau, the numbers of immigrants to Canada drastically dropped.
Looking over his own career as a public policy consultant with an eye to the same kind of evidence-based analysis that he’s applied to Trudeau’s professional career, Bob Plamondon says that he has consistently been inspired by nation building. Whether it’s the books he’s written or the projects he’s taken on in a professional or volunteer capacity, the Wellington West marathoner has always asked himself, “What can I do to contribute to the success of this country?”
Since Plamondon’s book has already been widely reviewed and in the interest of further truth-telling, we wanted to bring you a neighbour’s guide to the author himself.
5 things you should know about:
1. Bob is a former professional freestyle skier on the Labatt Brewery team in Montreal.
While Bob wouldn’t trade this experience for the world, his single-minded focus on freestyle skiing during his high school years left him with grades that saw him rejected from every university he applied to. After requesting that Carleton University grant him a second chance to apply himself to his studies, Bob was accepted and graduated with honours. Two years after graduating, Bob was teaching at Carleton. He’s now taught at numerous universities, including Queen’s graduate school and is also a Chartered Accountant.
2. Hay West: A Story of Canadians Helping Canadians was Bob’s first book.
Although he’d written many studies, speeches and briefing notes throughout his career as a public policy consultant, this was his first book. Inspired by the story of farmers in Naven, Ontario, helping farmers out west, Bob was involved in the Hay West project as a front-line volunteer. “It was a top news story at the time and when it came time for a book to be written, I was the one who had been there,” says Plamondon. All 8000 copies of the books were sold. The Prime Minister has a copy as do many folks within 4H clubs.
3. Bob was part of a small team in the Department of Finance who designed the GST.
“It’s part of the fundamental reforms that helped make our economy more viable,” says Plamondon.
4. Bob’s favourite Prime Minister is Sir John A. MacDonald.
In the process of researching his third book, Blue Thunder: The Truth about Conservatives from MacDonald to Harper, Bob became enamoured with Sir John A. MacDonald. “He is as relevant now as he was then,” says Plamondon. To honour his hero, Plamondon started a campaign to rename Wellington Street (not Kitchissippi’s Wellington Street West but the Wellington Street in from of Parliament Hill) Sir John A. MacDonald Boulevard.
“I wanted every politician to have to step across Sir John A. MacDonald Boulevard,” says Plamondon. Although Wellington Street wasn’t renamed, the initial campaign led to the Ottawa River Parkway being renamed The Sir John A. MacDonald Parkway just last year.
5. Bob is a champion arm wrestler.
He says he can defeat anyone. Even football players. Having no claims to arm wrestling prowess ourselves, we decided to take his word for it.