The Right Honourable
Pierre Elliot Trudeau

1968-1979, 1980-1984

"I believe a constitution can permit the co-existence of several cultures and ethnic groups within a single state." Trudeau, September 30, 1965

Private Life
  • Born: October 18, 1919, Montréal, Québec.
  • Education: Jean-de-Brebeuf College, B.A., 1940; University of Montreal, LL.L., 1943; Harvard University, M.A. in Political Economy, 1945; Ecole des Sciences Politiques, Paris, France, 1947-1947; London School of Economics, 1947-1948.
    • During his attendance at the University of Montreal, Trudeau was required to join the Canadian Officers Training Corps (World War II). However, Trudeau, like most other Québècois, opposed the conscription.
  • Marriage: Margaret Sinclair (1948-____) in 1971.
    • Three sons.
  • Divorced: 1984.
  • Called to the Quebec Bar, 1943.
  • Advisor to the Privy Council, 1949-1951.
    • Trudeau began to support labour unions, especially during the Asbestos Strike.
    • He criticized the repression of the Union Nationale under Premier Duplessis. Trudeau was a strong believer in and advocate of a single Canada, with all nationalities, cultures and languages living in harmony.
  • Co-founder and Co-Director, Cité Libre ['Free City'] newspaper, 1950.
  • Associate Professor of Law, University of Montreal, 1961-1965,
  • Researcher, Institut de Récherches en Droit Publique ['institute of research in public law'], 1961-1965.
  • Called to the Ontario Bar, 1967.
  • Author.
  • Died: September 28, 2000, of cancer. Buried in a Trudeau family vault in St-Rémi-de-Napierville, Saint-Ré, Quebec.

Political Career

Did You Know?

(Excerpt from the eulogy presented by Justin Trudeau)

"One day, we were in Alert, Canada's northernmost point, a scientific military installation that seemed to consist entirely of low shed-like buildings and warehouses.

"Let's be honest. I was six. There were no brothers around to play with and I was getting a little bored because dad still somehow had a lot of work to do.

"I remember a frozen, windswept Arctic afternoon when I was bundled up into a Jeep and hustled out on a special top-secret mission. I figured I was finally going to be let in on the reason of this high-security Arctic base.

"I was exactly right.

"We drove slowly through and past the buildings, all of them very grey and windy. We rounded a corner and came upon a red one. We stopped. I got out of the Jeep and started to crunch across towards the front door. I was told, no, to the window.

"So I clamboured over the snowbank, was boosted up to the window, rubbed my sleeve against the frosty glass to see inside and as my eyes adjusted to the gloom, I saw a figure, hunched over one of many worktables that seemed very cluttered. He was wearing a red suit with that furry white trim.

"And that's when I understood just how powerful and wonderful my father was."

  • Constituencies: Mount Royal, Québec, 1965-1984.
  • Minister of Justice, 1967-1968.
    • Within a year, Trudeau had reformed the divorce laws and had liberalized the laws on abortion and homosexuality (paraphrase: 'The government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation').
  • Acting President of the Privy Council, 1968.
  • Liberal Party Leader, 1968-1984.
    • Following Lester Pearson's retirement, Trudeau was invited to submit his candidacy. He won the Liberal leadership convention and immediately called a federal election. He won a majority government in the June election.
    • Trudeau was immensely popular with Canadians. The press dubbed this popularity as 'Trudeaumania'.
  • Official Languages Act, 1969, guaranteeing a bilingual civil service.
  • October Crisis, 1970, during which Trudeau implemented the War Measures Act.
    • The Front de Libération de Québec (Quebec Liberation Front), the FLQ, were a terrorist group which kidnapped a British diplomat.
    • Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa requested that Trudeau implement the War Measures Act.
    • The British diplomat was rescued and the terrorists were captured, but Quebec Cabinet Minister Pierre Laporte (who had also been kidnapped) was murdered.
  • Liberals returned with a minority government, 1972.
  • Appointed Muriel McQueen Fergusson as the first female Speaker of the Senate, 1972.
  • Liberals regained majority government, 1974.
    • Wage and Price Controls, 1975, in order to combat high inflation.
    • However, a sense of alienation in Western Canada lead to the Liberal defeat in 1979.
  • Leader of the Opposition, 1979-1980.
    • During this time, Trudeau decided not to serve as Leader of the Opposition and announced his retirement. However, the Conservative come-back lasted only 6 months (see Clark) and their minority government was defeated.
    • Trudeau was convinced to return as Liberal Party Leader and won the election the following year.
    • Trudeau devoted his efforts during his final term as prime minister to opposing the separatist goals of the Parti Québècois in power in Quebec.
    • Campaigned vigourously against the separatists and played a significant role in the victory of the 'No' vote in the Quebec Referendum on Sovereignty Association, 1980.
  • Appointed Jeanne Sauvé as Canada's first female Speaker of the House, 1980.
  • Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982.
    • Trudeau needed the co-operation of all the provinces to achieve this. Negotiations continued for 18 months during which dissenting ministers, along with rulings from the Supreme Court and various provincial courts, threatened to foil the efforts.
    • Despite the lack of co-operation from Quebec Premier René Lévèsque, consent was finally given.
  • Patriated the Canadian Constitution, 1982.
    • The Constitution Act was signed by Queen Elizabeth II in a special ceremony on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, April 17, 1982.
  • Appointed Jeanne Sauvé as Canada's first female Governor General, 1984.
  • Trudeau had spent his political career in strengthening Canadian unity and federalism. He also campaigned for world peace and worked to improve the relationships between the industrialized nations and the Third World countries. He retired from politics in 1984 and returned to practicing law and devoted time to writing his memoirs.
  • Pierre Elliot Trudeau wasn't old for very long. Following the unfortunate death of his youngest son, Michel in an avalanche while skiing, the once-spry and full-of-life 80-year-old Trudeau suddenly became very old, virtually overnight. Striken with Parkinson's Disease and prostate cancer, Trudeau died in his sleep surrounded by his family, just 3 weeks short of his 81'st birthday.
  • For the first time since John Diefenbaker, a Canadian prime minister Lay in State on Parliament Hill on September 30 and October 1. On Monday, October 2, a special funeral train returned Trudeau, accompanied by his surviving family, to Montreal where he Lay in State throughout the day in Montreal City Hall. Following a State Funeral in Notre Dame Basilica, attended by such world dignitaries as former US president Jimmy Carter, Cuban President Fidel Castro and Britain's Prince Andrew (who chose to attend as a private citizen), Trudeau was finally laid to rest in a family vault in St-Remi-de-Napierville, just south of Montreal, during a private funeral ceremony.

*(Progressive) Conservative *Liberal *Unionist/Conservative

* Macdonald * Mackenzie * Abbott * Thompson * Bowell
* Tupper * Laurier * Borden * Meighen * King
* Bennett * St. Laurent * Diefenbaker * Pearson * Trudeau
* Clark * Turner * Mulroney * Campbell * Chrétien