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Canada’s Cold War Cuisine: Recipes from the PM’s Office(ish) (Part 2)

POSTED BY Shanlon Gilbert February 4, 2019

And we’re back with more recipes inspired by the lives of Canada’s Cold War era Prime Ministers! No Jell-o allowed. Last week we covered the 1940s all the way to 1968! This week we get a little more modern, covering the 60s through 1991.


Here’s where it starts getting a little more difficult to locate those real recipes from the lives of our most prominent politicians – but no worries! Where we haven’t been able to find an actual dish enjoyed by the PM, we’ve thought up a good one to represent the politician.

Last week we covered MacKenzie King, St. Laurent, Diefenbaker, and Pearson! This week we continue, starting with…

Pierre Trudeau

Pierre Elliott Trudeau

In office: 1968-1979

The father of our current Prime Minister, Trudeau was a giant figure in Canadian politics. Charismatic, francophone, Trudeau had a resounding impact on Canada and Canadian identity. He was an intellectual, with a degree in Law from the Université de Montréal, a Master’s degree in Political Economy from Harvard University, spent some time studying at the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris, and pursuing – but never completing – a doctorate at the London School of Economics.

Trudeau’s influences span Marxism, socialist economics, and personalism. He was also a lifelong Catholic, attending church regularly his entire life, although he was private about his specific personal beliefs. He managed somehow to unite Canada at a time when it seemed to be falling apart at the seams – specifically the francophone-anglophone seams.

Trudeau had a knack for popularity. He was on par with a celebrity – he even briefly dated Barbara Streisand. He was the Kennedy of Canada, short one assassination. He hob-nobbed with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Lennon called him “a beautiful person.” Although as the years passed and the national deficit just kept being a deficit, and Trudeau’s attempts to curb inflation were widely unpopular. Some even suspected he distrusted capitalism. A Big Deal during the Cold War.

Pictured: Trudeau’s heart?

But if there’s one thing that can unite people, one thing that can bring people together in the way Trudeau once did, it has to be chocolate.

Unless you’re a Quebec separatist, in which cast, you hated Trudeau and therefore this metaphorical chocolate.

In any case, this recipe is supposed to have been one of the PM’s favourites:

Death By Chocolate (courtesy of Shannon Linden)

Joe Clark

In office: 1979-1980

Oh, Joe.

Although he absolutely did some good things in his political career, he is perhaps our least memorable Prime Minister. Not only does he have a name that’s so easy to forget it’s practically reading glasses, he didn’t even make it a year in office. After not quite 9 months, Clark was ousted in a vote of non-confidence.

Why, you ask? Why did parliament turn so quickly on our elected leader?

Clark ran on a campaign of cutting taxes to stimulate the then-struggling economy. Instead he proposed a 4-cent-per-litre tax on gas. And we all know how well gas taxes go over (NOT WELL).

So uh.


Inflation and about-faces being his forté while in office, we propose Clark be represented by one of the simplest, most complex dishes around: a classic French soufflé.

Here’s Joe Clark’s Soufflé of Shame, courtesy of

Pierre Trudeau

Pierre Elliott Trudeau (again!)

In office: 1980-1984

He’s back, baby! The Big Man on Campus, former law professor, semi-socialist Catholic French-speaking democrat, the Leader of the Liberal Caucus, Mister Charisma, PIERRE! ELLIOTT! TRUUUUDEAUUUUUUUUU!

*John Cena theme plays*

Yeah, Canada thought we’d had enough Trudeau. We’ve NEVER had enough Trudeau!

The charismatic Quebecois was reelected just 9 months after he was replaced by poor old Joe Clark. His second term in office was immediately complicated by Quebec’s Parti Québéquois’ determination to hold a referendum on Quebec sovereignty. They lost, with 60% of Quebecois voting to stay in Canada, effectively and quite wisely voting down a Brexit situation. So Québec is still part of Canada, and we love them.

One of the greatest things to come out of Trudeau’s reign as PM was his government’s approach to Canada’s multiculturalism, and its effect on our national identity.

The concept of Canada’s different cultures as a “mosaic” goes back at least to the 1920s, when Victoria Hayward described the prairie communities as a mosaic, with influences from various cultures in Europe visible in architecture and dress. But it was Porter’s work, describing how the cultural mosaic of Canada actually affected power dynamics, that most influenced Trudeau’s approach to multiculturalism.

Canada’s multiculturalism: a diagram.

Whereas the USA approaches multiculturalism as a “melting pot” – where multiple cultures come together and “melt down” to form one blended culture – Canada has come to view itself as a mosaic, made up of multiple distinct cultures which interact and function together in a way that is both fragmented and whole.

And so, in the absence of any other recipes from Pierre Trudeau’s life, I present:

Turkish Mosaic Cake (Courtesy of Elizabeth Taviloglu)

John Turner

In office: 1984-1984

Oh, did you think Joe Clark was going to be the shortest term served on this list?

Haha, nope!

And John Turner is only our second-shortest-serving Prime Minister. Charles Tupper only served 68 days to Turner’s 79.

So what effect could Turner have possibly had on Canada in those 11 weeks and change?

Not much.

As a credit to Turner, he more or less acted to close out the Trudeau term. Upon seeing the Liberals were not going to win the next election, Trudeau retired, Turner defeated future Prime Minister Jean Chretien to gain leadership of the Liberal party, and immediately called an election.

Done and dusted, kippers and custard. (Don’t worry that’s not the recipe, that sounds… distinctly 1950s).

Perhaps the most notable thing about Turner was his relationship with Princess Margaret. The two met at a ball and danced the night away. Apparently they were almost married – a big deal considering Turner was a Catholic and the royal family are decidedly Not Catholic.

Underwhelming, wholesome, and a favourite of British royalty?

And that just leaves us with…

Brian Mulroney

In office: 1984-1993

Yet another politician from Montréal, Mulroney led the first majority Conservative government since Dief the Chief. He closed out the Cold War on a “meh.” Mulroney faced a daunting task of reducing Canada’s deficit, which had gone from 1 to 37 billion dollars (yes, billion), while also dealing with an economic recession.

While Mulroney was a complicated and controversial figure, he did give Canada our Environmental Protection Act, opposed apartheid, and made a formal apology and financial reparations to Japanese Canadians affected by internment during WWII. On the other hand he privatized a lot of crown corporations (debatable value there), imposed the cod moratorium that so affected Atlantic Canada (but saved cod stocks from being depleted), and introduced GST.

He was also apparently very courteous and liked asparagus. Specifically, a crispy butter and breadcrumb covered asparagus. Something somewhat like this:

Crispy Parmesan Asparagus with Garlic Butter. Courtesy of Cafe Delites.

And there you have it. An entire Cold War dinner based on the favourite dishes (or suitable dishes) of Canada’s Prime Ministers. It might be dessert heavy, but is that really a problem?


Let us know if you make any of these dishes. We’d love to hear what you think!


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