Pierre-Elliott TRUDEAU


Pierre-Elliott TRUDEAU 1919-2000

1984 Economic Economic

In 1980, author and columnist Richard Gwyn described the Rt. Hon. Pierre-Elliott Trudeau as the one Prime Minister who had a hold on the Canadian people's imagination. The statesman who for 16 years was involved in a passionate relationship with Canada is also a man who profoundly influenced its history. His vision of a bilingual nation, his intellectual prowess, his non conformism, his constant search for excellence are among the many characteristics of this Montrealer who enthralled Canadians and kept them completely mesmerized.

Between the days of Cité libre and his peace initiative, between the young polemist who travelled the world and the widely experienced Prime Minister, Pierre-Elliott Trudeau was the maker and promoter of an ideology which jostled Canadian rules of politics. More than anyone before him, he aroused feelings of intense excitement, awakened pride and gave new meaning to the words “universality of man”.

Born in Montréal, he studied law at the Université de Montréal, graduated with Honours and was called to the Quebec Bar in 1943. In 1945, he received his Masters degree in political economy from Harvard University. He spent the next two years doing post-graduate work in law, economics and political science at the École des sciences politiques in Paris and at the London School of Economics. Founder and Director of the monthly publication Cité libre, he helped develop what was to become the mainspring of reform in Quebec during the 1950s and 1960s.

In 1966, he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to Rt. Hon. Lester B. Pearson. Sworn of the Privy Council, he was appointed Minister of Justice and Attorney General in 1967. He was elected Leader of the Liberal Party and sworn in as Prime Minister of Canada in 1968. In the rapid succession of social changes which marked Canada during the 1970s, namely the youth movement, the rise of Quebec nationalism, the impending threat of an inflationary crisis, the man escaped untouched and retained, despite the difficult times, the image of national hero.

During this decade, he fought to entrench a charter of human rights into the Canadian Constitution. He remained firm in his dedication to afford the two great Canadian cultures the opportunity to express themselves freely and to live side by side in harmony. The repatriation of the Canadian Constitution appeared to him as the ultimate means to satisfy this end.

After 1968, Mr. Trudeau was reelected Prime Minister for three additional terms in 1972, 1974 and 1980. During this time, he held the office of Opposition Leader for a brief period in 1979 1980. It was in 1984 that he resigned his post as Prime Minister of Canada, having accomplished a final historical gesture, his peace initiative which he carried throughout many foreign countries as a citizen of the world.

During his political career, he received countless honorary doctorates and awards from universities and organizations the world over. Having chosen to bring up his three sons in Montréal, he recently took up residence in the city and has joined a Montréal law firm as legal counsel.