“English Canada doesn’t have a culture — I’m going to give it one.”
As with most iconic leaders, Pierre Elliott Trudeau is easily recalled by his sharp-witted, perfunctory, and passionate statements. The one that resonates most, I think, with immigrant families such as mine sought to underline his championing of multiculturalism in Canada. In believing that diversity made a nation all the more richer, my family and many more like it were able to escape the social injustice and political turmoil of their home country. As a first-generation Canadian, I will alway be thankful for this.
Though Trudeau’s legacy bares the bitter streaks of arrogance, Québécois resentment, Western alienation, and a frail economy, he undeniably shaped a national identity that Canadians of all stripes take pride in to this day. Decriminalizing homosexuality, gun regulation, legalizing abortion and contraception, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, bilingualism, and multiculturalism were all systems of his doing. He set the foundation for his successors to continue building a kind and resilient nation.
We head into election day tomorrow, so I’d like to point out another quote from the former prime minister. “As against the invisible hand of Adam Smith,” Trudeau said, “There has to be the invisible hand of politicians whose objective is to have the kind of society that is caring and humane.” I agree, and hope that tomorrow we all have the confidence that our vote will be for the politicians who best embody that sentiment.
On this day, in 1972, Pierre Trudeau was sworn-in as Prime Minister of Canada (the second of four terms) in Rideau Hall, Ottawa. A little less than 43 years, later, his first-born son, Justin Trudeau, was himself sworn-in as the 23rd Prime Minister of Canada in Rideau Hall.
In this picture, taken in 1973, Prime Minister Trudeau is carrying Justin to Rideau Hall. Little did he know then, that his son would walk, quite literally, in his footsteps.
“There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation”
-Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 15th Prime Minister of Canada, speaking of his Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1968-69 which had provisions for the decriminalization of homosexual acts between consenting adults, the legalization of contraception, abortion and lotteries.