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?