Pierre Trudeau, Former Prime Minister Of Canada, Was Once Described As Essay

“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.

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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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