7 FEBRUARY 1969, Page 29

Conference diary

Sir: Rarely have I ever been so angry after hav- ing read an article which I found disturbing.

What really bothers me about the article in question is not just its most obvious shortcom- ings but the fact that I think it reflects serious deficiencies in some sectors of the British press. The article I am referring to is one by Joseph Chapman entitled 'Conference diary' (17 Janu- ary). The author writes: 'The disappointment of the conference, of course, was Mr Trudeau.' Before the conference opened we were flooded with stories from Canadian. American and British sources which expressed the grave fear that the Commonwealth would be meeting for the last time, that racial tension would finally tear it apart. As the opening session approached the British press in particular took pleasure in diverting attention away from such- sombre re- flections by focusing attention on the arrival in Britain of the new Canadian Prime Minister. Mr Trudeau soon became the knight in shining armour in the eyes of the glamour-hungry British. When the conference finally did open Mr Trudeau did not take an active part and so, the majority of the British press concluded, he was a dismal failure. Alas!

And now in smug assurance you sit back and read of the attacks on Mr Trudeau in the Canadian Parliament upon his return to Canada. Don't deceive yourself by saying 'Aha we were in the House of Commons for his performgiace right all along.' That Mr Trudeau be criticised is merely politics. The Canadian press in general (and this is all the more amazing after he had called the Canadian press 'crummy') and more importantly the Canadian people, have yet to be disillusioned by Mr Trudeau. We did not vote for him because we thought he would be the saviour of the Commonwealth but because we thought he was best qualified to solve our own enormous problems. This does not mean we are becoming isolationists but merely that we recognise certain priorities. To have launched Canada on an expensive series of promises at the Commonwealth conference would have been easy.

But Mr Trudeau avoided such a grandiose move, and this was typical Trudeau. During the election campaign, for example, he was often asked whether or not he favoured lowering of the voting age to eighteen and whether he favoured House of Commons debates being tele- vised. To a politician this question has become like being asked whether they are for mother- hood, and they always say 'Why of course it's the democratic way.' Mr Trudeau avoided this easy reply and said that no he didn't favour either move at the present time because there were more pressing problems to be solved.

What I think you have failed to realise is that Mr Trudeau is an unconventional man but that it is an unconventionality of mind as well as style. What other leader is there in the world today who would risk standing in front of more than 400 students and answer their unrehearsed questions without the benefit of notes or aides to assist him? I would remind you that if Mr Trudeau did not live up to expectations it was only because they were your expectations and not those of Mr Trudeau or most Canadians.

Sandra Anderson 247 Cassandra Boulevard, Suite 614, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada