Forty years ago this past weekend, the Liberals chose Pierre Trudeau as their leader.  I remember being caught up in Trudeaumania and attending one of his electric political rallies in Toronto.

Trudeaumania is one thing.   The Trudeau legacy is another.  It is a mixed bag.  There is no doubt he motivated  a new generation of Quebecers and Canadians  to consider politics  and public service as a calling.   He was unquestionably  a unique  and compelling personality on the world stage.

Trudeau also made a major contribution to winning the referendum in 1980 against Rene Levesque.  I remember being at the Paul Sauve Arena to hear his key speech in that campaign.  He brought us the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982 which in itself qualifies him as a transformational prime minister. A devout Roman Catholic from  Quebec, he kept  politicians  out of the bedrooms of the nation.

It was on the economy that Trudeau failed miserably.  When he took office, Canada’s national debt was $18 billion.  When he left it was $200 billion.  He ran against wage and price controls in 1974 and imposed them in 1975.  He enraged the West with his National Energy Policy.

Yet has there been a more magnetic Canadian leader in your lifetime?

Are you still a fan of his?



  1. 1
    SUZANNE Says:

    No. He legalized abortion. Period.

    And he was not a « devout » Roman Catholic. Devout Roman Catholics do not legalize the killing of equal human beings.

  2. 2
    Joe Agnost Says:

    « Are you still a fan of his? »

    I never was… I’ll always remember him as the man who ruined Canada.

    « Yet has there been a more magnetic Canadian leader in your lifetime? »

    Anyone would be better than him… and I mean anyone!

    And let’s bring his son into it… this guy, when asked his opinion of a political issue, remarked (pp) ‘I don’t know, I don’t read the papers or watch the news… I figure that if the story’s big enough someone will tell me.’

    That was 2 years ago… and today he wants to be an MP… god I hope people see him for what he is: a name.

  3. 3
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Neil asks: « Are you still a fan of his? »

    I used to be the BIGGEST fan of his. Now I consider most of his policies and actions a disappointment.

    Here is how I feel about several of his polities and actions:

    – « Trudeau never met a communist he didn’t like », according to autthor Jamie Glazov. I couldn’t stand his cozying up to mass-murderer, human-rights violating, anti-democracy, totalitarian dictator Fidel Castro. As well, Trudeau co-wrote a book entitled « Two innocents in Red China » in which he logs his travels in China, chronicling his feasts while the biggest holocaust in history occured around him: the Great Leap Forward in which up to 80 million Chinese peasants died of starvation.

    – Presented with 600,000 signatures demanding that he disallow Bill 22, Trudeau refused. Of course, the very same minority that signed the petition were those that made up most of his Mont-Royal riding and they rewarded his refusal by continuing to vote him into office with massive majorities.

    – He championed the opposition to both Meech Lake and the Charlottetown Accord, both big messes. Good for him! The best speech he ever gave was in, I believe, 1987 in front of the Canadian Senate in which he detailed his opposition to Meech Lake. The transcript of this speech (Donald Johnston even wrote a book based upon the transcripts) should be required reading for anyone interested in Canadian contitutional reform and the Quebec question.

    – No one was stronger or more persistent in their opposition to Quebec separatism. Trudeau provided Quebecers with an alternatvie vision that appealed to French Quebecers in a rational, inspiring way. When he left office, poll support for separatism was in single digits.

    – The Charter of Rights and Freedoms: a montrosity, particularly section 23 which outlines Minority Language of Education rights. It was based upon and inspired by the very worst law ever passed in Canadian history: Bill 101’s language of education provisions which is, of course, a race law…and a hate law.

    – Official bilingualism: it now turns out to be a dismal failure.

    On a personal note, Trudeau was, after retirement, seen many times on the streets of Montreal and there was never a more pleasant and, yes, loving personage I ever had the oppotunity to meet.

  4. 4
    Powell Lucas Says:

    I was never a fan of Mr. Trudeau but, on second thought, I may have to reconsider. After all, it was because of him that we here in Alberta will never again have to put up with a Liberal government

  5. 5
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Trudeau was a lovable arrogant bastard who could fuddle-duddle anybody because he had the means to do so. He once said: ‘ if you don’t like what I’M doing, dump me. I don’t need you guys, you need me ». He was an NDP clothed in Liberal garbs forever straddling the fence between his French and Scottish heritage. He can be credited with having done it his way. Like him or not, he was one of our most flamboyant and coherent leaders. He also managed to alienate both the West and Québec. Not a mean feat.

  6. 6
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Paul wrote: « He also managed to alienate both the West and Québec. »

    He certainly alienated the West but why do you say he alienated Quebec?

    Can you name a federal politician who was more popular amongst French-Canadians in Quebec? Not Levesque, not Bouchard, not Bourassa, not Mulroney…

    And as I mentioned before, when Trudeau left office, he had succeeded in bringing support for separation down to single digits…and, yes, it was practically ALL his doing.

    It is the elite of Quebec who claim that Trudeau alienated Quebec — and ONLY the elite — and it appears that you have bought into their propaganda, Paul.

  7. 7

    Trudeau’s policies have not aged well. I’m a fan of what he represents for Canadian politics: a man who stood up for Canada as he saw it. Many didn’t like (justifiably in some cases) large parts of his governance but at least he did. Personally, cool and smart as he was, he was to socialists for my taste.

    We elect people to lead and he led. This is why I like Harper. He has the courage to stand by his convictions and lead a nation. It’s refreshing to see this. That’s all we can ask. LEAD. So unlike those wishy-washy scammers in the Liberal party these past 15 years. In fact, the Liberals remain rudderless.

  8. 8
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    The core separatist population has, for the past 40 years stood at around 18%, Trudeau or not. The « fellow travelers » have ebbed and flowed with the tides. They, the hard core ones, belie the often made affermation that Québec separatism is dead. Paradoxically they liked Trudeau’s tenure because of his tough stance on the Constitution and bilingualism, they figured that it helped their cause. Don’t misread me, I voted Trudeau…and still would despite everything. He was a true leader and he did what he said he would do…just like Harper. However, I liked what Trudeau was doing…not what Harper does.
    As a center left guy I could go along with P.E.T. but not with « Blue eyes ».

  9. 9

    Powell Lucas –

    We are happy to have the view from Alberta. Thanks for your comment.

  10. 10
    SUZANNE Says:

    I’ll give him that: Trudeau was a strong opponent against Quebec separatism. I’ll give him that.

  11. 11
    Joe Agnost Says:

    « Trudeau was a strong opponent against Quebec separatism. »

    But look what he did to the rest of canada to placate quebec! He sold us out!!!!

    Yay – they didn’t separate!!

    Nooooo – we’re spending billions of dollars a year trying to force french on the ROC (and it isn’t going ANYWHERE!).

    Nooooo – the federal gov’t and public service is being taken over by french canadians.

    Nooooo – we’re forced to accept anti-english laws in quebec but must spend billions on bilingualism in every OTHER province.

    There are way too many « noooo »s to make it worth while…

  12. 12
    jim Says:

    Remember, Trudeau introduced the people of Canada, especially the young, to the politicos.

  13. 13
    SUZANNE Says:

    As someone who lived in Quebec during two referenda, I am thrilled that Trudeau was a strong enough opponent of separatism that my country didn’t split up.

    That’s not to say that bilingualism is necessarily the right policy for Canada, as it stands.

    But he kicked separatist butt. Yep, that made me a happy camper.

  14. 14
    Léandre Says:

    I’m a Pierre Trudeau’s fan and I’ll always be.

  15. 15
    winston33 Says:

    m trudeau etait croyant . il a fait beaucoup pour le canada . malgre son ARRRROGANCE . a great prime minister .

  16. 16
    Kenneth T. Tellis Says:

    Are we scraping the bottom of the barrel for people to make hero’s of? Pierre-Elliott Trudeau was no hero, because of the meeting at the Elm Street home of Gerard Pelletier on November 22, 1963. In attendance at that meeting was Rene Levesque, Jean Marchand, Pierre-Elliott Trideau, Jean-luc Pepin and Gerard Pelletier, who had decided the method they were going to use to make CANADA a French state from end to end.

    Trudeau was going to act as the saviour of Canada from the Separatists and pretend that he was against them. The reality was quite the opposite. He supported the idea of a Unilingual Quebec, where Joual (French patois) would be the only language, but felt that All the other provinces should be made BILINGUAL, so that the Metis/Metisse who style themselves as Canadien/Canadienne or Quebecois/Quebecoise would take them over one province at a time.

    The Metis/Metisse must never become the rulers of Canada, and all those who areNOT of Metis/Metisse origins should resist by whatever means possible. A willing partner in this plan was the Shaman Catholic Church of Quebec, which is NOT Roman Catholic at all, but a group of heretics posing as Roman Catholics.

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