Monday, December 6, 2010

Essay on Pierre Elliot Trudeau

Essay on Pierre Elliot Trudeau

Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau had a profound influence on Canada, its culture and society in general. The four specific areas that will be focused on in this essay are the FLQ crisis, Canada’s immigration policy and its foreign relations, the Canadian Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the growing and everlasting conflict between the French and the English.

Trudeau was born on October 18th, 1919 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He was the youngest child of three, son of Charles Trudeau, a French Canadian lawyer, and an English Canadian woman. Trudeau had always received top marks in school and went on to study law and become a lawyer, which he had accomplished by 1943. He remained outside the Liberal Party throughout the early 60’s, but had supported the Quebec Liberals in its conflict with the Union Nationale. Trudeau was also opposed to the fact that Prime Minister Pearson accepted and supported U.S. nuclear weapons (Encarta Encyclopedia, However, in 1965, Trudeau became Minister of Justice. He also played a key role in the federal-provincial constitutional conference. In 1968, Trudeau became the 15th Prime Minister of Canada. He succeeded Lester B. Pearson, who had resigned as leader of the Liberal Party, and won a majority in a general election soon after.

When the FLQ crisis erupted, Trudeau took a stand. Had he not done this, Canada would not be as it is today. Quebec may have separated, and Canada may have been torn apart, but Trudeau stood tall, influencing and affecting society forever. He always wanted “a bang rather than a whimper” (Wilson Smith, 160). The FLQ were a group of French extremists, who were willing to do whatever they could to force a separation from Canada. They were so devoted, that they kidnapped a British diplomat, James Cross, and held him hostage. A cry of fear ran throughout the Nation, but Trudeau did not move from his beliefs and ideals (Clarkson, 10). He said that Canada could not and would not give in to such a group and that it is a warning for others planning to do the same.


While all of this was going on, the FLQ were plotting. Finally they decided to kidnap Pierre LaPorte. People across the country were outraged by the occurrences, and Trudeau decided that enough was enough (Trudeau the Mini Series, CBC)! He brought in the Canadian military to protect Montreal from this fiasco and imposed the War Measures Act, which stated that you can be arrested and detained in prison in times of emergency. When Pierre’s actions were questioned by a news reporter, he had three simple words, “Just Watch Me!”, and that was the end of that discussion.

Although many French were outraged by the embarrassment that the imposed War Measures Act had caused them and their families, the FLQ were finally caught, which may never have happened if Trudeau had not been brave and had the courage to do what he did. (Wilson-Smith, 70) This did however cause a problem that may not have been foreseen. Due to the fact that the French were angry and annoyed about the War Measures Act, the Parti Quebecois (PQ) gained a lot of strength and was eventually elected in Quebec, which caused many more problems for Trudeau and his Liberal government and escalated the French – English conflict to a new level. For example, the PQ was the party that influenced Quebecers into almost separating. They also passed many laws in Quebec about English signs.

Another aspect of Trudeau’s term in office that will be looked at is his immigration policy and foreign relations, which shaped the way that Canada is today.
The policy is similar to that of Laurier’s, being an “open door” policy. Trudeau and his party ‘highly encouraged’ immigration. This policy resulted in a “cultural mosaic,” very different than the “Melting Pot” style of the U.S. He tried to achieve a “non-hyphenated” society. This open door policy created the multiculturalism that we experience, even to this day.

Trudeau had many admirers throughout the world, including the Queen of England, who absolutely loved him. He also had many admirers inside of Canada, and when Trudeau lost to Joe Clark for a brief period of time, he was quickly re-elected and retired in 1984. Although Trudeau had his admirers, he also had some people that didn’t exactly like him very much (as everyone does), such as U.S. President Nixon, who resented and hated Trudeau (Russo, the Toronto Star). Some people feel that Nixon was afraid of Trudeau and what he could do. Nixon was caught saying that “Spending three days in Canada was a pain in the ass.” (Russo, the Toronto Star)

Trudeau also did other things outside of Canada, such as reducing Canada’s military role in NATO (North American Treaty organization). He also recognized “The People’s Republic of China,” but was reluctant to have a relationship with the then president, Nixon. P.E.T put Canada on the map and made it known world-wide as a sovereign nation.

Trudeau did other things that affected Canada during his time in office, such as improving the Canadian constitution through the creation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He imposed constitutional changes that would end the role of the British parliament in amending our constitution. He also introduced equalization payments to poorer provinces in order to please them (Encarta Encyclopedia, When Trudeau wanted his amended constitution to be accepted by all of the provinces, very few agreed, due to what the Quebec Premier, Renй Lйvesque was saying and demanding. Trudeau and Jean Chrйtien secretly went behind his back and convinced the other provinces to agree, because he knew that it was desperately needed and that Canada couldn’t give Quebec what they wanted or they would face a big problem (Encarta Encyclopedia, When they all met at a Federal-Provincial ministers meeting, Trudeau “forced” the premier to agree, because he was in front of the media, causing what is known to many as ‘the night of the long knives’.

Trudeau sponsored the OLA (Official Languages Act), which stated that the two official Canadian languages were English and French. All government buildings, programs and services had to be provided in English and French.

“Bringing home” the constitution was a big day in Canadian history, which occurred on April 17th, 1982. It meant that Canada no longer had to get permission from Britain in order to amend our constitution. Canada now had complete power, and the process of passing a law was shortened. Canada was now a completely independent country (except for having the governor general sign an agreement about the passed bill).

However, due to what happened during the constitution proposal, many French Canadians do not like Jean Chrйtien, Pierre Trudeau or the Liberal political group (Trudeau the Mini Series, CBC). This significant event created even more turmoil and extended the barrier between the French and English speaking provinces of Canada. This also ignited the thought of separation in the minds of many French, which led to the referendum that was held in recent years. If Quebec had had a majority vote to separate, they would have literally divided Canada into two parts, separating the Maritimes from the rest of the country (even more then they are already).

As mentioned above, Trudeau sponsored the OLA to please French separatists, hoping that they would not cause any more trouble. French and English had become the official languages of Canada, giving both languages equal rights, status and privileges in parliament. This OLA act (originally created by PM Diefenbaker, but improved by Trudeau) also ensured that French and English became the official languages of New Brunswick. It also stated that anyone has the right to use English or French in any debate or proceeding, as well as use either in courts of law.

Warning!!! All free online essays, sample essays and essay examples on Pierre Trudeau topics are plagiarized and cannot be completely used in your school, college or university education.

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