Migration NewsFrom the Stars and Stripes archives
Canadian GIs, families in Germany enjoy visit by their prime minister
February 1, 1971
LAHR, Germany — Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau made a brief stopover here Friday afternoon to visit with Canadian servicemen and their families stationed here.
Trudeau was en route to Ottawa following the completion of an almost month-long foreign tour during which he made state visits to India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Ceylon as well as attending the Commonwealth Prime Ministers Conference in Singapore.
Despite the demanding schedule of his trip, Trudeau appeared refreshed and relaxed as he descended the steps of the Canadian Armed Forces' 707 jet. He was greeted by Maj. Gen. D. C. Laubman, commander of the Canadian Forces Europe, and Col. G. H. Sellar, commander Canadian Forces Base Europe.
The official party left for the Centennial Club, where Trudeau drank coffee and chatted with some of the 350 officers, NCOs and enlisted men present.
"He is as relaxed and cool as they say he is," said Cpl. Warren Begbie, of the Royal 22nd "Van Doo" Regt, after speaking with the prime minister.
The Royal 22nd is a predominantly French-speaking infantry unit, and Trudeau spoke about his trip in French to several of its members.
"He said he was very pleased with the results of the conference," said Maj. Richard Gauvin, deputy commander of the "Van Doos."
"He was happy to meet with the other prime ministers, especially those from the African nations."
As he moved around the crowded room shaking hands and talking with as many soldiers as he could, Trudeau spotted one man using a cane and went over to him.
"He asked me if I would still be able to get in some skiing this winter," Cpl. Raymond Gairdner, of the 3rd Mechanized Commandos, said, adding, "He's a real ski fan."
Gairdner, who injured his leg in a minor accident — not on a ski slope, but while on duty — said his nation's leader "is really easy to talk to. He has such a wide scope of interests."
As Trudeau left the club for a quick drive through the town of Lahr, he flashed the peace sign to a group of servicemen standing outside. A loud cheer went up.
After the drive, the official party returned to the airstrip, where Lahr's mayor, Dr. Philip Brucker, presented him with flowers, books on Lahr and Baden-Wuerttemberg, and some local wine.
Thanking the mayor, Trudeau remarked, "I'm glad the presence of Canadian troops and their families is leading to friendship between our peoples.
"When I return to Canada," he continued, "I shall read your books and think of my trip here, and I will drink your wine to your health."
Trudeau then added, "I'll bring back the empties the next time I come."
Before boarding the plane, Trudeau slowly went through the large crowd of people waiting to see him, joking, signing autographs and speaking with almost everyone there.
"I've got it," said Mrs. Erika Chiasson smiling and holding a picture that Trudeau signed for her. "I have a dinner to give tonight, but I just had to come to see him."