Pierre Elliot Trudeau was a French Canadian who was born in Montreal to a wealthy family in 1919. He studied at the Universite de Montreal and later attended Harvard University to study political economy. Trudeau entered politics and was appointed parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson in 1965. In the coming election Trudeau was promoted to Minster of Justice. He was an avid traveler who would frequently travel to the Canadian arctic for camping or travel around the globe.
Of all the Canadian Prime Ministers in the latter half of 20th century, Pierre Trudeau, despite being a controversial figure, had undoubtedly, the most profound impact on the Canadian nation. Trudeau was instrumental in reforming Canada’s constitution through partriation which allowed Canada to reform its own constitution. He brought multiculturalism to Canada and was able to stop a major separatist crisis in Quebec. As Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Trudeau demonstrated his potential to be Canada’s most influential Prime Minister in the later half of the twentieth century.
Although previous prime ministers attempted patriation and reforming the constitution, Pierre Trudeau was the first to successfully achieve patriation through the Constitution Act of 1982, which allowed Canada to amend its constitution without any intervention from the British parliament. In order for Canada to bring home the constitution, the British parliament had to pass an act to hand over the constitution to Canada. Prime Minister Trudeau held a series of meetings with the Premiers to discuss the Constitution details but none of the Premiers were agreeing.
While Pierre Trudeau was having a difficult time with the provincial premiers he knew he was right and the people of Canada would support him in bringing home the constitution. When Pierre threatened to leave for London without asking the Premiers, they were finally compelled to agree and nine of the them, not counting the Quebec Premier, gave their consent on the Constitution. Subsequently Trudeau went to London to reveal the new Constitution to the British parliamentarians.
In 1982 the British parliament passed the act, thanks to the Queen for taking Canada’s side and Jean Wadds, a British parliamentarian, who represented the interests of Canada in the British parliament. Canadian parliament also passed Constitution Act of 1982 which was made up of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It also brought forth Canada’s independence and separation from Britain. On October 8,1971 Pierre Trudeau announced the official policy of multiculturalism making Canada the first country to introduce such a policy to welcome new immigrants.
It was thanks to Trudeau who,” like his colleagues and many other Canadians, supported more open immigration,” and accepted the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in letter and in spirit. By doing so he affirmed the value and dignity of Canadians regardless of their culture. The policy was the first of its kind in the world and lead to similar acts in other countries like Australia. The policy created the space for a more open immigration policy in Canada. This policy lead to the Canadian Multiculturalism Act of 1988 .
The Multiculturalism Policy of 1971 sought to foster the identity of the new immigrants, assist cultural groups and help them overcome barriers in order to allow them to fully participate in the Canadian society. Since then several million immigrants have settled in Canada and have helped to strengthen the economy and enriched the culture. Multiculturalism and a more open immigration policy were the solution to Canada’s low population problem by attracting groups of skilled people from developing countries to help strengthen the Canadian economy.
Trudeau had a deep appreciation of and respect for other cultures which is reflected in his passion to build the Museum of Civilization and the National Art Gallery. Hassan Yassin is a friend of Trudeau and in 1976 they went to Spain to see a magnificent mosque which was built by the Arabs during the occupation of Spain and was later converted into a church. Hassan Yassin said in his memoir about Pierre Trudeau that: I innocently asked both the prime minister and the priest whether it was possible for me to pray as a muslim in the church … Mr. Trudeau immediately acquiesced to the idea.
He then asked if I could lead a prayer as an imam, while he and the priest bowed in Muslim tradition … in this magnificent moment the prime minister in his way contributed to uniting the two great religions of Christianity and Islam in peace and understanding.  One of Trudeau’s accomplishments was his handling of the separatist movement in Quebec. The Front de liberation du Quebec (FLQ) was a group who wanted Quebec to be separate from Canada, as they thought the French Canadian’s were being oppressed by the federal government and English Canadians.
The FLQ was an extremist group who was willing to go to any lengths to reach its goal and was therefore labeled as terrorist by the government. On October 5 of 1970, “a pair of gunmen grabbed British Trade Commissioner James Cross. ” Then on Saturday, October 10, “the FLQ kidnapped Pierre Laporte, the Quebec Minister of Labour and immigration,” who would later be found dead.  “ Pierre Trudeau was accused of many things, but never of being a fool.
Quickly grasping the pandemonium in Montreal, he declared the War Measures Act,” which gave the police sweeping powers to arrest and detain any suspect in order to root out the FLQ members. During this time the Quebec government was getting lots of threats from FLQ and upon request Trudeau agreed to send the Canadian Forces to assist the provincial police. The federal government finally understood that maybe, “the FLQ was not just a bunch of pamphlet-waving , bomb planting zealots after all. 4]”
In early December, 1970 the location of the FLQ members who were keeping James Cross hostage was revealed, and they therefore demanded a safe passage to Cuba and $500,000 in gold in exchange for James Cross. On December 3, 1970 they were granted their request to escape to Cuba with $500,000 but would later be caught in July 1980 when returning to Canada. This was how the FLQ got wiped out. Pierre Trudeau impacted Canada in many ways and helped to create the Canada we see today with a free, safe and multicultural society.
Trudeau played a very significant role in reforming Canada’s Constitution. He demonstrated quick and decisive thinking when it came to national security as evident by his handling of the FLQ crisis. He was a visionary who found a lasting solution to the discriminatory attitudes and cultural jealousies in the world by introducing the Multiculturalism Policy of 1971. Throughout his career as Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Trudeau worked to create a better society for Canadians.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 1 December 2016
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