“He haunts us still.”
I think it would not be an exaggeration to say that already Pierre Trudeau has more books written about him than almost any other Canadian Prime Minister. Two more appeared today, an intellectual memoir by Ramsay Cook whom I knew at the History department of the University of Toronto and the first of a two volume biography by the noted Canadian historian, Professor John English. The latter deals with Trudeau’s life before he was triumphantly elected Liberal leader and Prime Minister in 1968.
English’s book especially treats of Trudeau’s deep Catholic faith. He grew up in a somewhat rigid Catholic home in Outremont, then spent his most formative years at Brebeuf College, a conservative Jesuit institution catering to Quebec’s elites.
It was at Brebeuf that Trudeau began to dream of one day leading an independent Catholic Quebec. The operative word in that sentence is “catholic’. There is no doubt that his faith meant a great deal to him and continued to do so until the very end of his life, marred as that was by the death of his favourite son in a ski accident.
The fact that Trudeau remained a virgin until he was almost 30 and resorted to psychoanalysis to deal with the conflict raging between his youthful libido and the constraints of chastity says more about the church’s damaging teaching on healthy sex than it does about any psyhcological weakness of his own.
Does he haunt you still? By all means try to cajole a generous friend into giving you the John English biography for Christmas and read a trove of fresh material on Pierre Trudeau, our most fascinating prime minister.