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 Pierre Elliott Trudeau

Pierre Elliott Trudeau

Birth
Outremont, Montreal Region, Quebec, Canada
Death 28 Sep 2000 (aged 80)
Montreal, Montreal Region, Quebec, Canada
Burial Saint-Remi, Monteregie Region, Quebec, Canada
Plot Trudeau family mausoleum.
Memorial ID 12792 · View Source
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15th Prime Minister of Canada. He served in this position for 15 years, from 1968 until 1984 as a Liberal from the Canadian province of Quebec. He is remembered a flamboyant and charismatic political giant who led Canada through some of its most tumultuous events. As Prime Minister, he championed participatory democracy as a means of making Canada a "Just Society," promoted the metric system, and vigorously defended the newly implemented universal health care and regional development programs as means of making society more just. He also implemented many procedural reforms, to make Parliament and the Liberal caucus meetings run more efficiently, significantly expanded the size and role of the Prime Minister's office, and substantially expanded the welfare state, with the establishment of new programs, and significant improvements in existing ones, with welfare payments to the aged, the young, and the underprivileged greatly expanded in an attempt to bring about a European-style social democracy in Canada. A somewhat eccentric person, he would sometimes wear sandals to Parliament, dated celebrities like Barbara Streisand and Margot Kidder, flashed an obscene hand gesture to protesters, and once did a pirouette behind the back of Britain's Queen Elizabeth. Born Joseph Philippe Pierre Yves Elliott Trudeau in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the 2nd of three children whose father was a wealthy French Canadian businessman and lawyer. When he was in his mid-teens, his father died. He attended the prestigious Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf (a private French Jesuit school) in Montreal, where he became a supporter of Quebec nationalism. He attended the Université de Montréal and graduated with a law degree in 1943. During his studies, he was conscripted into the Canadian Army like thousands of other Canadian men, as part of the National Resources Mobilization Act. When conscripted, he decided to join the Canadian Officers' Training Corps, and served with the other conscripts in Canada. In an Outremont (a federal electoral district in Quebec) by-election in 1942, he campaigned for the anti-conscription candidate Jean Drapeau (later the Mayor of Montreal), and was expelled from the Officers' Training Corps for lack of discipline. After the war, Trudeau continued his studies, first taking a Master's Degree in political economy at Harvard University's Graduate School of Public Administration in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He then studied in Paris, France in 1947 at the Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris. Finally, he enrolled for a doctorate at the London School of Economics, but did not finish his dissertation. From 1949 to 1951 he worked in Ottawa, in the Privy Council Office of the Liberal Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent as an economic policy advisor. In 1961 he became an associate professor of law at the Université de Montréal and worked there until 1965. His views evolved towards a liberal position in favor of individual rights counter to the state and made him an opponent of Quebec nationalism. In 1965 he joined the Liberal party and ran as a representative from Mount Royal in western Montreal in the 1965 election and won. He would hold this seat until his retirement from politics in 1984, winning each election with large majorities. He was appointed as Prime Minister Lester Pearson's parliamentary secretary, and spent much of the next year travelling abroad, representing Canada at international meetings and events, including the United Nations (UN). In 1967 he was appointed to Pearson's cabinet as Minister of Justice. In this position, he was responsible for introducing the landmark Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-69, an omnibus bill whose provisions included, among other things, the decriminalization of homosexual acts between consenting adults, the legalization of contraception, abortion and lotteries, new gun ownership restrictions as well as the authorization of breathalyzer tests on suspected drunk drivers and liberalizing divorce laws. At the end of Canada's centennial year in 1967, Prime Minister Lester Pearson announced his intention to step down, and he entered the race for the Liberal leadership. His energetic campaign attracted massive media attention and mobilized many young people, who saw him as a symbol of generational change (even though he was 48 years old). Going into the leadership convention, he was the front-runner and a clear favorite with the Canadian public. However, many Liberals still had deep doubts about him and his commitment to their political party. Having joined the Liberal Party only in 1965, he was still considered an outsider as well as too radical and outspoken. Some of his views, particularly those on divorce, abortion, and homosexuality, were opposed by a substantial segment of the party. Nevertheless, at the April 1968 Liberal leadership convention, he was elected as the leader on the 4th ballot, with the support of 51% of the delegates. He was then sworn in as Prime Minister two weeks later on April 20. He called an election, for June 25, 1968. His election campaign benefited from an unprecedented wave of personal popularity called "Trudeaumania," a term coined by journalist Lubor J. Zink, which saw him mobbed by throngs of youths. An iconic moment that influenced the election occurred on its eve, during the annual Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day parade in Montreal, when rioting Quebec separatists threw rocks and bottles at the grandstand where he was seated. Rejecting the pleas of his aides that he take cover, he stayed in his seat, facing the rioters, without any sign of fear. The image of him showing such courage impressed the Canadian people, and he handily won the election the next day. In 1969 he oversaw the passage of the Official Languages Act, that required all Federal services to be offered in French and English. During the October Crisis of 1970, the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) kidnapped British Trade Consul James Cross at his residence, on October 6. Five days later, Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte was also kidnapped (and was later murdered, on October 17). He responded by invoking the War Measures Act, which gave the government sweeping powers of arrest and detention without trial. Although his response was controversial and was opposed as excessive by some members of parliament, it was met with only limited objections from the public. He presented a determined public stance during the crisis, answering the question of how far he would go to stop the terrorists with the response, "Just watch me". Five of the FLQ terrorists were flown to Cuba in 1970 as part of a deal in exchange for James Cross' life, although they eventually returned to Canada years later, where they served time in prison. In foreign affairs, he kept Canada firmly in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), but often pursued an independent path in international relations. He established Canadian diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, before the US did, and went on an official visit to Beijing. In the federal election of 1972, the Trudeau-led Liberal Party won with a minority government, with the New Democratic Party holding the balance of power. This government would move to the political left, including the creation of Petro-Canada. In May 1974, the Canadian House of Commons passed a motion of no confidence in the Trudeau government, defeating its budget bill. The election of 1974 saw him and the Liberal party re-elected with a majority government. In October 1975 he instituted wage and price controls, as did Nixon in the United States during the period of the Great Inflation. In the 1979 election, his Liberal government was defeated by the Progressive Conservatives, led by Joe Clark, who formed a minority government. He announced his intention to resign as Liberal Party leader, but before a leadership convention could be held, Clark's government was defeated in the Canadian House of Commons by a Motion of Non-Confidence, in mid-December 1979. The Liberal Party persuaded him to stay on as leader and fight the election and he defeated Clark in the February 1980 election, and won a majority government. During his final term in office, the May 1980 referendum on Quebec sovereignty, called by the Parti Québécois government of René Lévesque, was defeated. He promised a new constitutional agreement with Quebec should it decide to stay in Canada, and on April 17, 1982, the Constitution Act, 1982 was proclaimed by British Queen Elizabeth II, giving the Canadian people a new Charter of Rights and Freedoms, intended to intended to protect certain political and civil rights of people in Canada from the policies and actions of all levels of government. In January 1984, with public opinion polls showing that the Liberals were likely to be defeated if he remained in office, he retired from politics on June 30, 1984 and was succeeded as Prime Minister by John Turner. He then joined the Montreal law firm Heenan Blaikie. In 1993 he published his memoirs. He died in Montreal of prostate cancer at the age of 80. Among his honors and awards include a member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada (1967), a Companion of Honour (1984), the Albert Einstein Peace Prize (1984), and the Companion of the Order of Canada (1985). He was the recipient of at least nine honorary degrees from universities in the US, Canada, Japan, and China.

Bio by: William Bjornstad


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 7 Oct 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 12792
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Pierre Elliott Trudeau (18 Oct 1919–28 Sep 2000), Find A Grave Memorial no. 12792, citing Saint-Remi-de-Napierville Cemetery, Saint-Remi, Monteregie Region, Quebec, Canada ; Maintained by Find A Grave .