DOES PIERRE TRUDEAU DESERVE MORE BOOKS?

“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. 

6 Comments »

  1. 1
    SUZANNE Says:

    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.

    No it does not. A libido can be managed. It does not make you crazy to do that. There are plenty of people who do.

    As for the rest of the post: I don’t think it’s a question of “personal merit” per se. He had an enormous influence on the country, so naturally he will be the focus of study. I suspect that the fact there is a lot of material to work with also helps. The production of history is influenced by the availability and accessibility of source material.

    Even though I’m not crazy about the guy, I’d enjoy reading his biography. I like to read about “successful people”, whether I agree with them or not. It just makes for a good story.

  2. 2

    Hi Neil – Yes, the Catholic Church hurt Mr.Trudeau.

    It is truly baffling how much devotion and fidelity gets invested into abusive relationship contracts. For example, look at how many gay men live and die in a church sytem that despises their orientation. Why would they want to stay? Is it the safety? The free rent? The instant authority? How can an older gay catholic priest model self respect to a younger gay man?

    A heterosexual acquaintance has lived, for over 30 years,in an abusive relationship with her husband. I find her ‘Yes, but’s…” to be tragic. Her children also tolerate ‘less than’ in their workplaces,friendships and relationships and, as modeled, the beat goes on.
    I was taught, as a young Catholic child,to admire sainthood – people who suffered gross oppression were deemed heroic. I now realize that we are all invited to live out our best truth and sparkling light – and in so doing, the darkness of oppression is simply starved of its malevolent energy.

  3. 3

    Hi Neil – Talking about abusive relationships on a larger scale – and every unhealed bit of energy does expand and worsen – I want to say how much appreciated your recent October article oin The Senior Times, Neil, that ended with the important question: “The issue is this: does bombing your neighbour to bits increase the chance for peace and security? Or does Israel’s behaviour toward the Palestinians, and now in Lebanon, create a new suicide bomber, a new resistance fighter and a new potential terrorist every hour of the day.
    This is a serious problem and I believe it can be put in a single question: Is Israel more secure now than before the invasion of Lebanon began? This debate is now going on in Israel itself. Thank you Neil!

  4. 4
    Neil McKenty Says:

    It’s great to have you back, Eleanor with perceptive comments on abouse, domestic and international. Do drop in whenever you have the energy and time. Neil

  5. 5
    Alan Hustak Says:

    With all due respect to Eleanor Cowan, the Roman Catholic church does not, to use her word, “despise” those of homosexual orientation. And to suggest that the church “hurt” Pierre Trudeau is nonsense in the extreme. If she wishes to be enlightened, I suggest she start by reading Gaudium et Spes. I repeat : moral positions may be difficult to uphold, they are not difficult to understand. Oh, and the more books about Trudeau, the better.

  6. 6
    SUZANNE Says:

    For example, look at how many gay men live and die in a church sytem that despises their orientation. Why would they want to stay? Is it the safety? The free rent? The instant authority? How can an older gay catholic priest model self respect to a younger gay man?

    Without agreeing to every premise of your statement, I will tell you why: it’s politics. There are a lot of men out there who think they should be priests because they want to change the Church.

    They also stay because they feel they don’t have anywhere else to go. I remember a sting operation an orthodox watchdog group did on an email list of priests who lived a homosexual lifestyle. This group exposed the emails of the priests on this list. A lot of them were saying that they loved the Church, and wanted to serve. They wanted to do things differently. Some just wanted to leave but didn’t know how to begin because their resumes were empty.

    There are many kinds of sinners. And even though the Church tells sinners they are doing wrong, many sinners struggle to overcome their tendancies, whatever they may be because they feel the solicitude of the Church, if not in the institutional realm, at least through the Tradition of the Church and the orthodox faithful. True Catholics do not remain in the Church out of love for the institution. They remain because they believe in the Church there is Truth.


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