Poor Brian. The guy sure loved to live the life of 24 Sussex. Most of our Prime Ministers do (although I still wonder about Joe Clarke), but Brian really loved it. He was a big-deal power-broker business man, and those were the qualities he took to the PMO. Prime Minister of Canada was as big as it got for him -- not quite Jack Welch big, but still impressive in its way.
He left office with quite a tidy benefits package, but no-one seems too eager to remember his tenure with even the lightest patina of fondness. Lord knows it's difficult for me to generate much respect for him, even on those issues where it's due him. I haven't voted for any of the PMs who have served me, so I'm disinclined toward cheerful appraisal at the best of times. But I begrudged Brian the most. He seemed crass, arrogant, a pretender who got his way by spending enormous sums of money. Most damning of all, when he dropped dough there never seemed to be any benefit for the little guy. Couldn't figure out the "bread and circuses" equation, our Brian. He withheld the bread and figured we'd content ourselves with the circus of his ego.
That's my uneducated observer's take: informed spectators with a greater capacity for fairness can say otherwise, and may yet get the final word. I doubt Brian will ever have that honor, though. He can't seem to scrape the stink off his shoes, and in his case each shoe has its particular taint. On the left is Pierre Trudeau: clever, classy, seductive, a genius at spending other people's money, yet always game for public debate because he was unshakable in his rectitude. And on the right is Karlheinz Schreiber, a manipulative weasel with an eye for the nearest shortcut to his goal.
I'm not sure I quite ascribe to the notion that we choose our enemies, but Brian comes close to bearing it out. And with both nemeses, I wonder if he isn't fighting above his weight.