Margaret’s Moment at the State Dinner

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As we collectively swooned over the burgeoning Trubama bromance, the soulmating sisterhood of the First Lady and the PM’s wife, the Camalotesque photos of family and fashion, and the matters of state and policy that were dealt with, there was a personal story of resilience that also culminated in the state dinner last night.

Margaret Trudeau travelled to Washington with her son and his family and was spotted that day by CTV News taking her three grandchildren to the zoo. She wanted to set the record straight on the dress she wore to the 1977 State Dinner hosted by then President Jimmy Carter for her then husband Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, which caused a tempest in the protocol teapot for being short, telling anchor Lisa Laflamme that it was above the ankle, not above the knee as was reported, most recently by the New York Times this morning. They have printed a correction online.

And looking back at the pictures, the minimalist midi-length shift she wore that night was a fresh modern take on evening wear that still looks chic today. Ahead of her time and of her time, that is Margaret Trudeau in a nutshell, and it’s her time again.

At last night’s state dinner, amid the jokes about poutine, the most popular Canadian Justin, Americans fleeing to Cape Breton in the face of Trumpism and grey hair, President Obama took a moment to recognize Margaret Trudeau and her advocacy work.  Michelle Obama led the standing ovation.

Who would have thought that all these decades after yet another state dinner in 1972 but this one in Ottawa when President Richard Nixon toasted Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, saying that his newborn son, Justin, would be prime minister one day, it would come to pass. Maybe Margaret did – after all, she told Lisa LaFlamme on election night after her son’s come-from-behind victory, that Justin has always won at everything he’s done.

And almost 20 years after a  Canadian PM was last honoured with an American state dinner – Prime Minister Jean Chretien by President Bill Clinton – it’s about time (eh?) that Margaret receive her due, too.


At a white tie state dinner on March 25, 1969, President and Mrs. Richard Nixon greet Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau at the North portico of the White House. It was the first of the Nixon administration.