Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not the first of his line to serve as the leader of the Canadian government. His father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, also served as PM of Canada for a period of more than 15 years. Pierre Trudeau was one of Canada’s most memorable and long standing leaders, behind only Sir John A Macdonald and William Lyon Mackenzie King in length of time in office.
Like his son, Pierre Trudeau was the leader of the Liberal party. He had a history of involvement with democratic socialism (like Bernie Sanders in the United States) and envisioned a strong, free Quebec whose place he saw as firmly within Canada. The elder Trudeau worked towards building a Just Society in which all citizens would have a share in the affluence of Canadian society.
The Legacy of Pierre Trudeau
Love him or hate him, Pierre Trudeau was responsible for some of the most significant changes in Canadian law and society. Here is a sampling of the many ways he impacted our nation:
- Decriminalization of homosexuality, and legalization of abortion and contraception;
- More liberal divorce laws;
- Legalization of lotteries;
- Introduction of laws to combat drunk driving, and restrictions on firearm ownership that prevented the sale of guns to criminals and the mentally ill;
- Bilingualism and multiculturalism within the federal government and the Canadian military;
- Repatriation of the constitution and creation of a national charter of rights and freedoms;
- Staunch opposition to Quebec nationalism, and support of a single Canadian national identity which would include Quebec.
It will be interesting to see what legacy the younger Trudeau will leave when he leaves politics. Already, some of his proposed policies like the legalization of marijuana and the nurturing of a more personalized pursuit of bilingualism seem to be falling in line with the policies of Pierre Trudeau.
Image Credit: Pierre Trudeau by Rob Mieremet/Anefo, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; CC BY-SA 3.0