"The essential ingredient of politics is timing"
Joseph Philippe Pierre Yves Elliott Trudeau, more commonly known as Pierre Elliot Trudeau was born the 18th of October, 1919 and died on the 28th of September, 2000. Trudeau was the 15th Prime Minister of Canada for the Liberal party and held public office for a total of 15 years from April 20th 1968, to June 4th 1979, and when he regained power in 1980-1984. There was great excitement generated from Trudeau's 1968 election campaign, and it was nicknamed "Trudeaumania". Trudeau was young, energetic, and a nonconformist making him popular with many Canadians. He was charming, good looking, and very goodat public relations; signing photographs and the such.
Trudeau worked hard to keep Canada united. He passed the Official Languages Act in 1969, in an successful attempt to stop Quebec from separating from Canada. He said, "I am trying to put Quebec in it's place, and the place of Quebec is in Canada"1. The Official Languages Act which made both French and English the official languages of Canada, was greatly accepted and appreciated by the French, and helped to heal old wounds. It legislated that all federal services be offered in both languages, allowing for easier access to government On the healing and accepting note, he worked hard to bring Quebec closer to Canada and feel more patriotic. He tried to preserve French heritage, and encourage the Quebecois to celebrate their ancestry. He was well aware of the old wounds between the English and the French, and he worked hard to unite Canada as a nation.
Trudeau inspired and influenced Canadians of all ages especially the young. He encouraged them to believe that they were capable of great things, and to never give up. He was the image of a perfect leader, handsome, suave, charming, everybody loved him. He was energetic and youthful, allowing many of the young voters and Canadians to relate to him. "He did what no politician before or since has done: he touched the dreams of an entire generation of Canadians"2. He gained respect in public office through his unifying of Canada, the Constitution act, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Trudeau was not only popular because of his good looks, he was also a very good politician, and a very smart leader. In 1976 he abolished the death penalty which was celebrated by the public. In 1982 he not only passed the Constitution Act, but he also established the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Constitution Act was a huge stepping stone towards Canada's identity as a sovereign nation. It gave Canada complete control over it's constitution, removing it from under Britain's control. This was very popular with the Canadian populace, as they believed it was about time they fully became their own country. This lead to Canada being more of a player in international affairs, and allowed Canadians to feel more unified and patriotic to their country. He also passed the Election Act, lowering the voting age down to 18 from 21. He was also very pro-denuclearization. He encouraged and tried to stop other countries from building atomic weapons, and also helped to easy tensions during the Cold War. Because of his work in this field he received the Albert Einstein Peace Prize in 1984.
Improving Canada as a Nation
Passing the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982 was a very big step forward for Canada. It guaranteed certain rights and freedoms to all canadians. It cut discrimination and helped to unify Canada and make the people more equal. It gave every Canadian the freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief, expression, press, peaceful assembly, and association. It gave everyone the right to a democratic government, the right to vote, and the right to serve as a member of legislature. It also gave everyone mobility rights, which allowed them to enter and leave Canada, move to and live in any province, and to live outside of Canada. It also enacted fundamental legal freedoms including equal treatment before and under the law, and equal protection and benefit of the law without discrimination. It gave every citizen of Canada the right to life, liberty, security of the person. The right from unreasonable search and seizure, arbitrary detainment or imprisonment, not to be subject to cruel and unusual punishment, and the guarantee of habeas corpus. The right to legal counsel, the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the right against self-incrimination, and the right to have an interpreter in a court proceeding. These right really developed Canada, and made it a better, more united country. He also supported the fight against homosexual discrimination, in the House of Commons, and publicly.
Significance as a Defining Moment
Trudeau really united Canada as a whole and helped it to discover and develop it's patriotic identity. Through the bills he passed, and the people he inspired he really improved Canada. He inspired the population, to believe in great things, and he allowed them to be more free and united. In passing the Constitution Act, he separated Canada from Britain and made us proud of our own country. He passed the Official languages act, bringing French Canadians closer and more equal, more a part of Canada, and helping to quell old hatreds. When interviewed about the decision he explained, "Of course a bilingual state is more expensive than a unilingual one - but it is a richer state."3 He then entrenched our rights into law with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, cutting discrimination and allowing for more fairness and equality. He passed many bills and acts which helped to improve and define Canada as a nation. He will be remembered as a great influential leader of Canada.
"If Canada is to survive, it can only survive in mutual respect and in love for one another."4 --Pierre Trudeau
This quote really embodies Trudeau's vision about unifying Canada. He strived very hard to make the Quebecois feel more equal and more a part of Canada. With his Official Languages Act and his continued support of their culture, and heritage he really succeeded in this endeavor.
John Lennon met Trudeau in 1969 and commented, "If all politicians were like Pierre, there would be world peace"5. Many people believed the same about Trudeau. He was a charismatic man, and he had a good sense of morals. He strived to make the world a better place and to improve canada. For his work in promoting peace and de-nuclearization he truly deserves the Albert Einstein Peace Prize.