27 June 2022

E.T. Cash In

P.E.T: Pierre Elliott Trudeau and his unearthly adventures
Jude Waples
New York: Avon, 1983
93 pages

E.T. was the summer blockbuster of 1982. I saw it on my twentieth birthday.

Most embarrassing.

At twenty, Pierre Trudeau was very nearly the only prime minister I'd ever known. He assumed the office when I was in kindergarten and stepped down when I was in university, that long stretch being interrupted by 273 days of Joe Clark.

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden
Michelle Le Grand and Allison Fay
Don Mills: Greywood, 1972

P.E.T. followed Sex and the Single Prime MinisterThe Naked Prime Minister, and I Never Promised You a Rose Garden; laughs that paired photographs with imagined conversation. This being a jubilee year, I present this example:

P.E.T. is very much a departure in that it relies on illustrations and actual quotations. The concept is that Pierre Elliott Trudeau is an extra-terrestrial or perhaps one of a race of extra-terrestrials who has/have played havoc throughout the centuries. 

I read the last image as a nod to Stanley Burke and Roy Peterson. Those who were twenty or older in the summer of '82 will remember.

Frog Fables & Beaver Tales
Stanley Burke and Roy Peterson
Toronto: J Lewis & Samuel, 1973

The odd placement of Parliament Hill aside, most striking is the near-absence of humour; it's more mean-spirited than anything.

That's meant to be Margaret Trudeau to the right of Joe Clark.

According to the 26 May 1983 edition of the Ottawa Citizen, Jude Waples was provided the quotations, and found them "scary." "I was careful to make sure none of the quotations weren't used out of context," she told journalist Kathleen Walker.

I'm not convinced, though given current times, I found this one particularly interesting.

Well, the man did attend the London School of Economics.

Like Waples' monster, P.E.T. is an awkward thing. Not all the quotes Avon provided belong to Trudeau. Here Margaret Trudeau's words are given to a horse:

Nine years ago, I described P.E.T.: Pierre Elliott Trudeau and his unearthly adventures as the ugliest Canadian book cover of all time. The interior isn't any prettier, though I've experienced far uglier things between the covers.

Is it quibbling to point out that some of the quotations are inaccurate?


There's no way P.E.T. wasn't a rush job. As exploitation product goes, I like it just as much as this strange Montreal MusicWorks single, which somehow went gold in Canada:

P.E.T. isn't quite so memorable, but is it easier on the ears.

Full disclosure: I voted Liberal in 1988. Not sure about 1997.

Object and Access: A slim, trade-sized paperback. Purchased last year for for US$12, the old World's Biggest Bookstore price sticker was a nice surprise. The five copies currently listed for sale online range in price from US$7.99 to US$115.00. Condition is not a factor. I recommend the copy going for US$7.99.

The Library of Parliament, Library and Archives Canada, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, and five of our university libraries hold copies.

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