Pierre Trudeau

prime minister of Canada from 1968 to 1979 and 1980 to 1984

Joseph Philippe Pierre Yves Elliott Trudeau (October 18, 1919September 28, 2000) was a Canadian politician. He was the 15th Prime Minister of Canada from April 20, 1968 to June 4, 1979, and again from March 3, 1980 to June 30, 1984. His eldest son Justin Trudeau was a teacher before entering politics, becoming the 23rd Canadian Prime Minister in November 2015, the first child of a previous prime minister to hold the post.

If Canada is to survive, it can only survive in mutual respect and in love for one another.

Quotes edit

Of course a bilingual state is more expensive than a unilingual one — but it is a richer state.
Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.
Let us overthrow the totems, break the taboos. Or better, let us consider them cancelled. Coldly, let us be intelligent.
The state has no right or duty to creep into the bedrooms of the nation.
We peer so suspiciously at each other that we cannot see that we Canadians are standing on the mountaintop of human wealth, freedom and privilege.
Our hopes are high. Our faith in the people is great. Our courage is strong. And our dreams for this beautiful country will never die.
The essential ingredient of politics is timing.
I believe a constitution can permit the co-existence of several cultures and ethnic groups with a single state.
Well, Just watch me!
People are more interested in ideas than dress.

year unknown edit

  • People are more interested in ideas than dress.
    • As quoted in "Pierre Elliott Trudeau" profile in The Greatest Canadian at CBC

1944 edit

1963 edit

  • I would have to point out in the strongest terms the autocracy of the Liberal structure and the cowardice of its members. I have never seen in all my examination of politics so degrading a spectacle as that of all these Liberals turning their coats in unison with their Chief, when they saw the chance to take power.
    • As a CCF member taking issue with the federal Liberal Party. Cite libre (April 1963)

1966 edit

  • Bilingualism is not an imposition on the citizens. The citizens can go on speaking one language or six languages, or no languages if they so choose. Bilingualism is an imposition on the state and not the citizens.
    • Statement to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, as quoted in Problems of Journalism (1966) by the American Society of Newspaper Editors
    • Unsourced variant : "Bilingualism is not an imposition on the citizens — it is an imposition on the state."

1967 edit

  • There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.
    • L'État n'a pas d'affaires dans les chambres à coucher de la nation.
    • Comment in the Canadian House of Commons on the decriminalization of homosexuality (22 December 1967)[citation needed]
    • Although usually attributed solely to Trudeau, the quote is a paraphrase by him from an editorial that appeared in the Globe and Mail on December 12, 1967 (page 61) which read in part: "Obviously, the state's responsibility should be to legislate rules for a well-ordered society. It has no right or duty to creep into the bedrooms of the nation."

1968 edit

  • Vive la France libre.
    • Long live free France.
    • Comment referring to the 1968 student protests in Paris, patterned after the 1967 remarks of Charles de Gaulle in Montreal on Quebec independence from Canada: "Vive le Québec libre!" (Long live free Quebec!), quoted in The Lima News (11 December 1968)
  • I'm not leaving! I must stay.
  • A man who tries to please all men by weakening his position or compromising his beliefs, in the end has neither position nor beliefs. A man must say what he believes clearly, without dogma, and without guile.
  • Well, I am trying to put Quebec in its place — and the place of Quebec is in Canada, nowhere else.
  • The attainment of a just society is the cherished hope of civilized men. While perhaps more difficult to formulate for groups than for individuals, even the members of majorities — political, religious, linguistic or economic — must know what it is to suffer injustice. My Government is deeply concerned to provide and to ensure increased justice, dignity and recognition to the individual, particularly in an age which is characterized by large governments, industrial automation, social regimentation and old-fashioned laws. A great deal has been accomplished in recent years to make the Canadian society more just in terms of income distribution and security against the vicissitudes of life.
    • Speech from the Throne, House of Commons (12 September 1968)
  • Of course a bilingual state is more expensive than a unilingual one — but it is a richer state.
    • Remark in 1968, quoted in Improving Canada's Democracy (2006) by Terry Julian, p. 14

1969 edit

  • If you want to see me again, don't bring signs saying "Trudeau is a pig" and don't bring signs that he hustles women, because I won't talk to you. I didn't get into politics to be insulted. And don't throw wheat at me either. If you don't stop that, I'll kick you right in the ass.
    • Comment to a young protester throwing wheat at him during a speech in Regina, (17 July 1969), in The Best of Trudeau (1972)
  • Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.
    • Être votre voisin, c'est comme dormir avec un éléphant; quelque douce et placide que soit la bête, on subit chacun de ses mouvements et de ses grognements.
    • Addressing the Press Club in Washington, D.C. (25 March 1969) - Audio clip
  • Canada regards herself as responsible to all mankind for the peculiar ecological balance that now exists so precariously in the water, ice and land areas of the Arctic archipelago. We do not doubt for a moment that the rest of the world would find us at fault, and hold us liable, should we fail to ensure adequate protection of that environment from pollution or artificial deterioration.
    • House of Commons Debate (24 October 1969)

1970 edit

  • Trudeau: Well there are a lot of bleeding hearts around who just don't like to see people with helmets and guns. All I can say is, go on and bleed. But it's more important to keep law and order in the society than to be worried about weak-kneed people who don't like the looks of a soldier
    CBC reporter Tim Ralfe [interrupting]: At any cost? How far would you go with that? How far would you extend that?
    Trudeau: Well, just watch me.
    • Responses to reporters following the kidnapping by the FLQ of a provincial cabinet minister who was eventually murdered. CBC video archives (13 October 1970)
  • Let us overthrow the totems, break the taboos. Or better, let us consider them cancelled. Coldly, let us be intelligent.
    • Approaches to Politics (1970)
  • Mangez de la merde.
    • Eat shit.
      • Response to the taunting of a group of striking Montreal mail truck drivers in 1970, as quoted in The Trudeau Decade (1979) by Rick Butler and Jean-Guy Carrier, p. 219

1971 edit

  • There is no such thing as a model or ideal Canadian. What could be more absurd than the concept of an "all Canadian" boy or girl? A society which emphasizes uniformity is one which creates intolerance and hate.
    • Speech to the Ukrainian - Canadian Congress, Winnipeg, Manitoba (9 October 1971)[citation needed]
  • Fuck off.
    • Comment alleged to have been made to an opposition MP in the House of Commons (16 February 1971), as quoted in Trudeau in Power (1971) by Walter Stewart, p. 47
    • Oh, I don't know...fuddle-duddle or something like that.
      • Comment to the media,[citation needed] explaining what he told the MP; "Fuddle-duddle" has now become a Canadian slang euphemism for "Fuck off."
  • I've been called worse things by better people.
    • When it was reported to him that President Richard Nixon had called him an "asshole" (1971), quoted in Absurdities, Scandals & Stupidities in Politics (2006) by Hakeem Shittu and Callie Query, p. 19
    • My only response was that I had been called worse things by better people.
      • Trudeau's account of the comment, in Memoirs (1993) by Pierre Elliott Trudeau, p. 218

1972 edit

  • The next time you see Jesus Christ, ask Him what happened to the just society He promised 2,000 years ago.
    • In reply to a high school student's question about what happened to Trudeau's promises of a "Just Society", in Regina, Saskatchewan (September 1972)[citation needed]

1976 edit

  • I don't really know what a cyclotron is but I am certainly very happy Canada has one!
    • Visiting the TRIUMF cyclotron in (February 1976), as quoted in "A Canadian TRIUMF" in Grad Gazzette [University of British Columbia] (June 2005)

1977 edit

  • Oh, for Christ's sake shut up. Obviously the New Democratic Party is not only misinformed but uninterested in the subject.
    • Comment in the House of Commons in response to an MP heckling his response in Question Period, House of Commons Debates - Official Report - Second Session - Thirtienth Parliament - Volume V, 1977 - Page 5272 (4 May 1977)
  • I don't know if the member of Prince Edward-Hastings thinks he's on camera, but he's not.
    • Comment in the House of Commons in response to the heckling of George Hees, October 17, 1977 (this particular Question Period was the first to be televised, prompting Trudeau's remark. In actuality, John Raymond Ellis was the Prince Edward-Hastings MP.)[1]

1979 edit

  • If I can be permitted to turn around a phrase, I would say that I'm kind of sorry I won't have you to kick around any more.

1980 edit

  • Mr. Lévesque was saying that part of my name was Elliott and since Elliot was an English name, it was perfectly understandable that I was for the No side, because, really, you see, I was not as much of a Quebecer as those who are going to vote Yes. That, my dear friends, is what contempt is…. It means saying that the Quebecers on the No side are not as good Quebecers as the others and perhaps they have a drop or two of foreign blood, while the people on the Yes side have pure blood in their veins.… Of course my name is Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Yes, Elliott was my mother's name. It was the name borne by the Elliotts who came to Canada more than 200 years ago. It is the name of the Elliotts who, more than 100 years ago, settled in Saint-Gabriel de Brandon, where you can still see their graves in the cemetery. That is what the Elliotts are. My name is a Quebec name — but my name is a Canadian name also.
    • Speech in Paul Sauvé Arena, Montreal, Quebec, six days before the Quebec referendum on independence. (14 May 1980)[specific citation needed]

1981 edit

  • We must now establish the basic principles, the basic values and beliefs which hold us together as Canadians so that beyond our regional loyalties there is a way of life and a system of values which make us proud of the country that has given us such freedom and such immeasurable joy."

1984 edit

  • I walked until midnight in the storm, then I went home and took a sauna for an hour and a half. It was all clear. I listened to my heart and saw if there were any signs of my destiny in the sky, and there were none — there were just snowflakes.
    • Recounting a "walk in the snow" at a news conference announcing his resignation (29 February 1984)[citation needed]

1986 edit

  • The essential ingredient of politics is timing.
    • As quoted in The Rainmaker : A Passion for Politics (1986) by Keith Davey, p. 57; also in The Wordsworth Dictionary of Quotations (1998) by Connie Robertson, p. 439

1988 edit

  • I, for one, will be convinced that the Canada we know and love will be gone forever. But, then, Thucydides wrote that Themistocles' greatness lay in the fact that he realized Athens was not immortal. I think we have to realize that Canada is not immortal; but, if it is going to go, let it go with a bang rather than a whimper.
    • Testifying before the Canadian Senate in opposition to the Meech Lake Accord (1988-03-30)

Memoirs (1993) edit

I was too busy doing my job and living my life to spend time keeping notes for some future volume of memoirs.
I must say that "Give Peace a Chance" has always seemed to me to be sensible advice.
As against the "invisible hand" of Adam Smith, there has to be a visible hand of politicians whose objective is to have the kind of society that is caring and humane.
I worked to put this view of social justice into effect throughout my years in office.
  • I was too busy doing my job and living my life to spend time keeping notes for some future volume of memoirs.
    • Preface, p. ix
  • The Jesuits were good educators, exceptional teachers. In an era and in a society where freedom of speech was not held in high regard, of course, that the discourse be focused on what they were teaching, but we were able to go beyond this framework without incurring too great a risk.
    • Part 1, 1919 - 1968 The Road to 24 Sussex Drive, p. 21
  • Harvard was an extraordinary window on the world.
    • Part 1, 1919 - 1968 The Road to 24 Sussex Drive, p. 39
  • What is wonderful about a university like LSE is that you not only receive teaching of very high quality, you also learn where to find the knowledge you are seeking. And you make unexpected discoveries; it was a Marxist professor who introduced me to the work of Cardinal Newman, a great master of English prose as well as theology.
    • Part 1, 1919 - 1968 The Road to 24 Sussex Drive, p. 46
  • What is considered sinful in one of the great religions to which citizens belong isn't necessarily sinful in the others. Criminal law therefore cannot be based on the notion of sin; it is crimes that it must define.
    • Part 1, 1919 - 1968 The Road to 24 Sussex Drive, p. 83
  • When I had been appointed to the Cabinet in 1967, I had been struck by the amateurism that reigned in the upper echelons of the federal government.
    • Part 2, 1968 - 1974 Power And Responsibility, p. 107
  • Democracy demands that elected members be able to realize fully the role for which they have been chosen.
    • Part 2, 1968 - 1974 Power And Responsibility, p. 117
  • I must say that "Give Peace a Chance" has always seemed to me to be sensible advice.
    • Part 2, 1968 - 1974 Power And Responsibility, p. 122
  • I am sometimes also asked whether the October Crisis taught me anything about the art of governing, or about the means that were at my disposal for defusing the crisis. First of all, it taught me that you can be the prescient futurologist in the world, you can lay out the best-made plans and define your priorities with the utmost care, but if you show yourself to be incapable of managing a crisis when it arises, you will lose your right to govern and the whole thing will blow up in your face.
    • Part 2, 1968 - 1974 Power And Responsibility, p. 149-150
  • Some things I never learned to like. I didn't like to kiss babies, though I didn't mind kissing their mothers. I didn't like to slap backs or other parts of the anatomy. I liked hecklers, because they brought my speeches alive. I liked supporters, because they looked happy. And I really enjoyed mingling with people, if there wasn't too much of it.
    • Part 3, 1974 - 1979 Victory And Defeat, p. 178
  • The state has an active role to play in ensuring that there is equilibrium between the constituent parts of the economy, the consumers and the producers.
    • Part 3, 1974 - 1979 Victory And Defeat, p. 189
  • I never actually got around to taping conversations with my guests, but there are a lot of things you can learn from a man like Nixon.
    • Part 3, 1974 - 1979 Victory And Defeat, p. 216
  • The community of man should be treated in the same way you would treat your community of brothers or fellow citizens.
    • Part 3, 1974 - 1979 Victory And Defeat, p. 224
  • I remember thinking that walking on the beach as a free man is pretty desirable.
    • Part 3, 1974 - 1979 Victory And Defeat, p. 258
  • The federal government is the balance wheel of the federal system, and the federal system means using counterweights.
    • Part 4, 1979 - 1984 "Welcome to the 1980's", p. 290
  • I saw the charter as an expression of my long-held view that the subject of law must be the individual human being; the law must permit the individual to fulfil himself or herself to the utmost.
    • Part 4, 1979 - 1984 "Welcome to the 1980's", p. 322
  • We aimed far and high, but we did not miss the mark.
    • Part 4, 1979 - 1984 "Welcome to the 1980's", p. 340
  • A country, after all, is not something you build as the pharaohs built the pyramids, and then leave standing there to defy eternity. A country is something that is built every day out of certain basic shared values.
    • Part 5, Life After Politics, p. 366

Quotes about Trudeau edit

If all politicians were like Mr. Trudeau, there would be world peace. ~ John Lennon
Listed alphabetically by author
  • Pierre Trudeau was too much of a professional politician to be described as a good man, nor, it can be argued despite much publicity to the contrary, was he a particularly clever or even wise one. But he was a great man, perhaps the greatest Canada has produced in this century.
    • Peter Brimelow, in The Patriot Game : Canada and the Canadian Question Revisited (1986)
  • I'd rather be sincere in one language than sound like a twit in two.
    • John Crosbie when criticized for his unilingualism, as quoted in "No Holds Barred" (1999)
  • He never met a communist he didn't like.
  • The only thing as out of step with the times as baseball was Canada, which was in the strange embrace of something called Trudeaumania. This country that became the home to an estimated fifty to one hundred U.S. military deserters and hundreds more draft dodgers was becoming a weirdly happy place. Pierre Elliott Trudeau became the new Liberal prime minister of Canada. Trudeau was one of the few prime ministers in the history of Canada to have been described as flashy. At forty-six and unmarried, he was the kind of politician who people wanted to meet, touch, kiss. He was known for his unusual dress, sandals, a green leather coat, and for other unpredictable whimsy. He even once slid down the bannister of the House of Commons while holding piles of legislation. He practiced yoga, loved skin diving, and had a brown belt in karate. He had a stack of prestigious graduate degrees from Harvard, London, and Paris and until 1968 was known more as an intellectual than a politician. In fact, one of the few things he was not known to have experienced very much of was politics.
  • In Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Canada has at last produced a political leader worthy of assassination.
  • Esther Delisle, a Quebec historian, has run into trouble by attempting to show some ambiguities in that picture. She argues that Abbe Lionel Groulx, the renowned scholar and teacher, has become an icon to French-Canadian nationalists who manage, however, to overlook his anti-Semitism. While the nationalists stress the wrongs done to Quebec in the conscription crises of the two world wars, she points out that they fail to deal with the fact that in Quebec during World War II there was considerable sympathy for the pro-Nazi Vichy government of France. As recent works on Trudeau confirm, he, like other members of the young French elite, carried on his life and career between 1939 and 1943 without paying much attention to what was going on in the world. “Reading the memoirs,” writes Delisle, “of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Gerard Pelletier and Gerard Fillion, among other French Canadians promised to prestigious careers, one could conclude that they saw nothing, heard nothing, and said nothing at the time, and that they were only interested in (and marginally, at that) the struggle against conscription.... There is more to the silence and lies than a simple narcissistic scratch. There is the need to hide positions which the Allied victory made unspeakable. These men would have to forget, and make others forget, their attraction to the siren songs of fascism and dictatorship in the worst cases, and in the best, their lack of opposition to them.”
  • Everything was fine for the first several years. Then in about 1973, the liberal party, headed by then-Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, out of compassion took in five thousand Uganda Asians who were Ismailis by religion. They had British citizenship, but Idi Amin expelled them from Uganda, and Britain refused to accept them in spite of their British passports. It was an act of kindness by the Canadian government led by Trudeau to accept this group of five thousand refugees. There was, however, an unexpected, immediate, and violent racist reaction against these non-Europeans, who had money and who were buying houses in good neighborhoods. Suddenly, the Canadian government at that time floated policy papers asking the question, "What kind of Canada do we want?" in purely racial terms. The government described people like me, with brown skin and still Canadian citizens, as "the visible minority." That's the government phrase. The policy papers also stated that we, the visible minority, were "straining the absorptive capacity" of Canada. Meaning that there were too many brown people and that Canada wouldn't remain the same.
    • 2005 interview in Conversations with Bharati Mukherjee Edited by Bradley C. Edwards (2009)
  • Go bang the window and see what happens — just go test it. See that? Trudeau had the office bulletproofed. I always contended that the reason he did it was because the American embassy is right outside. They probably wanted to shoot him.
    • Brian Mulroney, as quoted in The Secret Mulroney Tapes : Unguarded Confessions of a Prime Minister (2006) by Peter C. Newman, p. 331
  • Pierre Trudeau's and Fidel Castro's paths crossed for the first time in 1970, when the Canadian government sought to negotiate the exile of members of the FLQ, who had kidnapped British trade commissioner James Cross. Fidel Castro obliged the Canadian PM by providing a refuge, and in a private letter Mr. Trudeau later extended his heartfelt gratitude.

External links edit

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