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Essay/Term paper: Pierre elliot trudeau 3

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Biography

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Pierre Trudeau, former Prime Minister of Canada, was once described as

"A French Canadian proud of his identity and culture, yet a biting critic

of French-Canadian society, determined to destroy its mythology and

illusions". He has also been identified as "A staunch, upholder of

provincial autonomy holding the justice portfolio in the federal

government". Such cumulative appraisal and observation made by past fellow

bureaucrat provides high testimonial for the ex-Democratic Socialist. This

critique will establish and dispute the prime directives that Trudeau had

advocated in his own book written during the years 1965 to 1967. The

compilation of political essays featured in his book deal with the diverse

complexities of social, cultural and economical issues that were

predominant in Canadian politics during the mid 1960's. However, throughout

my readings I was also able to discover the fundamental principles that

Trudeau would advocate in order to establish a strong and productive

influence in Canadian politics.

Born in 1921, Trudeau entered the world in a bilingual/bicultural home

located in the heart of Montreal, Quebec. His acceptance into the

University of Montreal would mark the beginning of his adventures into the

Canadian political spectrum. Early in his life, Trudeau had become somewhat

anti-clerical and possessed communist ideologies which were considered

radical at the time. Graduating from prestigious institutions such as

Harvard and The School of Economics in England, Turdeau returned to Canada

in 1949 and resumed his social science endeavors. At this time in Quebec,

the province was experiencing tremendous cultural and political differences

with the rest of the country. The Union Nationale had taken possession of

political matters in Quebec and was steadily dismantling the socialist

essence imposed on the province by the Federal government. The current

Prime Minister, Maurice Duplessis, found himself battling a religious

nationalist movement that corrupted the very fabric of political stability

in Quebec. The Duplessis faction maintained their conservative approach

towards political reform but failed to sway the majority of the population

into alleviating with the demands of the Canadian government. The citizens

of Quebec revered their clerical sector as holding 'utmost importance'

towards preserving French cultural values and this did not correlate with

the Federal government's policies and ideals. Francophones were under the

impression that their own Federal government had set out to crush and

assimilate what had remained of their illustrious heritage in order to

accommodate economic and political tranquility. Trudeau himself had decided

to join the nationalist uprising with his advocation of provincial

autonomy. Ultimately, he and other skilled social scientists attempted to

bring down the Duplessis party in 1949, but failed miserably in their

efforts. Duplessis buckled underneath the continuous pressure of French

patriotism and was rewarded for his inept idleness by winning his fourth

consecutive election in 1956. Although nothing of significance had been

accomplished, Quebec has solidified its temporary presence in confederation

at such a time. This prompted Trudeau to involve himself in provincial

diplomacy as he would engage in several media projects that would voice his

displeasure and disapproval with the ongoing cultural predicament in Canada

(this included a syndicated newspaper firm, live radio programs). "If, in

the last analysis, we continually identify Catholicism with conservatism

and patriotism with immobility, we will lose by default that which is in

play between all cultures...". By literally encouraging a liberal, left-

wing revolution in his province, Trudeau believed that Democracy must come

before Ideology. Gradually, his disposition would attract many politicians

and advocates of Socialism, and thus it allowed him to radiate his ideology

onto the populace of Quebec. Trudeau makes it clear in his book that during

the early years of the Duplessis government, he was a staunch admirer of

provincial autonomy, but with the archaic sequence of events following the

conflicts that arouse between Federal and Provincial matters in Quebec, he

had taken a stance on Federalism that involved security, economic

prosperity and centralized authority. It wasn't until 1963 when the newly

appointed Premier of Quebec, Rene Levesque, warned that there must be a new

Canada within five years or Quebec will quit confederation. It was not

until 1965 that a man named Pierre Trudeau entered politics.

It is at this point in his anthology that I was able to surmise the

radical and unorthodox political convictions that the soon-to-be Prime

Minister would incorporate into Canada. His thesis is focused around

pertinent issues which demanded attention at the time. After he elaborates

on the importance of Federalism and how it is associated with Quebec, the

reader begins to interpret the resolutions he offers and then finds himself

comprehending the dilemma that French Canadians face in Canada. In the wake

of a constitutional referendum, such knowledge can be viewed as ironically

significant. A defender of civil rights and freedoms, Trudeau, even as a

teenager, was adamantly opposed to supporting any political theory based on

ethnic tendencies; he makes this clear on an essay in the book entitled:

"Quebec and the Constitutional Problem". He was convinced that not only the

divided jurisdiction of a federal state helped protect the liberty of its

citizens but also that in fact the economic, social and cultural goods of

Quebec can best be achieved with a Canadian federal state. It seemed that

an archetypal Trudeau Federal infrastructure would be one where each level

of government would function on its own jurisdiction. In doing so, Trudeau

would voice his admiration for the Bill of Rights and how he would

concentrate on developing a Federal government for the individual. It was

not until 1962 that Trudeau actually began defending Federalism for what it

represented to the average labourer, but the fact that Quebec seemed to

convert provincial autonomy into an absolute forced him to reconsider his

political stance. Joining the struggling Liberal party in 1965, his only

coinciding proposition with that of his party was the advocation of an open

Federal system. Nonetheless, it marked the beginning of a political career

that would take him to the heights of power in his dominion.

"My political action, or my theory - insomuch as I can be said to have

one - can be expressed very simply: create counter-weights". The measure of

a man can be traced to his ideological convictions, and in doing so, I have

only started to realize the prominent role that Trudeau has played in

Canadian politics. He was heralded as a radical, somewhat of a usurper and

definitely a socialist mogul, but what was clear about Trudeau was his

respect and admiration for liberties of the common man and how they were

preserved from the clutches of Federal policies. This respect would not be

replaced at any cost during his tenure and as he forecasted the ensuing

constitutional dilemma with a very impartial, non-partisan outlook, he

would primarily concentrate on two factors (economic and linguistic) which

offered practical conclusions without chaotic implications. Trudeau

envisioned himself in power, speculating two choices he would offer to

Quebec; full sovereignty or maximized integration into the American

continent. But what Trudeau avoided treading upon was the infringement of

state policies on the individual's rights and freedoms. Many members of the

Federal government believed that Trudeau did not speak on behalf of French

Canadians but that he substituted their cultural plight with his own

theories. This generated the following response: "If the party does not

agree with my opponents, it can repudiate me; if my constituents do not,

they can elect someone else". Trudeau maintains that he dedicated his

anthology in order for others to understand the problems that French

Canadians faced in terms of cultural progress, and I am compelled to

conclude that his involvement with the Federal regime may have saved the

country for twenty years...unfortunately, he was unable to complete the

affirmation of his ideology into the French Canadian scope and thus Canada

today is contemplating the outcome of another constitutional referendum.

His failure to absolve the constitution of any future repercussions with

the masses should not be viewed as a political error, but as an ideological

truth which he exhibited since 1965 (the addition of the "notwithstanding"


Trudeau's book covers an immense amount of historical and idealistic

content. Published in 1965, it is fascinating to read and discover how

intently and closely he would follow his ideologies as he would eventually

ascend to the position of Prime Minister. His reliability would be

questionable at the time (based on limited experience as a politician) but

the fact that he had submerged himself into a field which required

innovative and pragmatic thought led me to believe that his Federalist

stance would eventually be justified in Canadian history. With a

superlative writing style, his use of vocabulary and terminology aided the

reader in understanding his convictions. Not even this reader expected such

a barrage of political jargon.

Recent events in Canada have somewhat curtailed the ambience dealing

with this critique in respects to the opinions exhibited on behalf of the

author and reviewer. Trudeau takes obvious pride in his ideological

perspective of multicultural Canada, and in doing so one might expect a

partisan, biased array of resolutions. This, however, is not the case. This

book leaves room for educational prowess without any noticeable weaknesses.

Federalism and the French Canadians is an insightful, ideological anthology

that could be found especially useful to other politics students who wish

to examine the importance of cultural and social values in a country

missing a stable political doctrine (and perhaps a leader, no less).


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