- 18 Oct. 1919 - 28 Sep. 2000
Pierre Trudeau was the 15th Prime Minister of Canada from 20 April 1968 to 4 June 1979, and again from 3 March 1980 to 30 June 1984. His personal motto was "Reason before passion," and he had a dramatic impact on the Canadian political scene of the time. He worked to preserve national unity and establish the Charter of Rights and Freedoms within Canada's Constitution.
Trudeau was born in Montreal to Charles-Émile Trudeau, a French Canadian businessman and lawyer, and Grace Elliot, who was of French and Scottish descent. His family became quite weathly by the time Pierre was in his teens and he sold his prosperous gas station to Imperial Oil. Pierre attended the Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf where he was affiliated with the ideas of Quebec nationalism.
In 1943, Trudeau graduated with a law degree at the Université de Montréal (U de M). During his studies he was conscripted into the Army, although he was discharged for lack of discipline. Following the war, he completed a master's degree in political economy at Harvard University's Graduate School of Public Administration. He also studied in Paris, and began pursuing a doctorate at the London School of Economics, although he did not finish his thesis.
While working as an associate professor of law at U de M, his views evolved and he became an opponent of Quebec nationalism. He was pursuaded to join the Liberal Party in 1965, and ran successfully for the Liberals in that election. Upon arrival in Ottawa, Trudeau was appointed as Prime Minister Lester Pearson's parliamentary secretary. Following this, he was appointed to Pearson's cabinet as Minister of Justice.
In 1967, Prime Minister Pearson announced his intention to step down, and Trudeau entered the race for the Liberal party leadership. In April 1968, Trudeau was sworn in first as Liberal leader and then as Prime Minister two weeks later, on the 20th.
On March 4th, 1971 Pierre married Margaret Sinclair, a woman thirty years his junior. This marriage later ended in divorce.
Trudeau's impact on the Canadian political system was wide-ranging, including the implementation of official bilingualism. After a political career that spanned fifteen years, Trudeau formally retired on June 30th of 1984.
After his retirement from politics, he joined a law firm in Montreal, and continued to occasionally intervene in political debate when he felt it necessary. He was devastated by the death of his youngest son, Michel, who was killed in an avalanche in November of 1998.
Pierre Trudeau passed away on September 28th of 2000, at the age of eighty.