BELLEVILLE, Ont. – It’s a familiar old photograph, but it can still move Justin Trudeau to tears.
The famous shot — Pierre Trudeau toting his young son like a football while an RCMP officer snaps a crisp salute at the prime minister — was too much for the Liberal leadership hopeful during a campaign stop Thursday in Belleville, Ont.
Trudeau the younger was presented the framed 1973 photo by none other than Belleville Const. Jeff Ling, whose father, a member of the prime minister’s security detail, was the police officer in the picture.
The moment was captured on video by the campus news organization at Loyalist College in Belleville, Ont., shortly after the front-running leadership contender wrapped up remarks to journalism students.
Ling told Trudeau their fathers spent a lot of time together, including sitting in a hospital waiting room on Christmas Day 1971, the day Justin was born.
“Operation Newborn, I think we called it, when Dad was gone for Christmas,” Ling said as Trudeau wiped away tears.
After accepting the gift, Trudeau moved in to give Ling a bear hug — but he got a crisp salute of his own instead.
After the pair shared a laugh and a warm embrace, Trudeau returned to the microphone.
“Almost every single stop across this country, I am overwhelmed with the people who come to me to tell me great stories about my father and great stories about my mother,” he said, his cheeks still wet.
“I have so far been able to resist the tears that almost inevitably flow. Today, I failed in that.”
Trudeau said he’s “so touched and so honoured and so grateful” to the men and women who serve in the armed forces and police services that, in this case, he was literally reduced to tears.
“I apologize for that. I am not a crybaby but Valentine’s Day and the kind of love I’ve been shown (by Ling) has just left me really emotional today.”