Canadian Leader: Pierre Elliot Trudeau Essay

Canadian Leader: Pierre Elliot Trudeau Essay

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Pierre Elliot Trudeau was arguably one of the most vivacious and charismatic Prime Ministers Canada has ever seen. He wore capes, dated celebrities and always wore a red rose boutonniere. He looked like a superhero, and often acted like one too. Some of the landmark occurrences in Canadian history all happened during the Trudeau era, such as patriating the constitution, creating the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the 1980 Quebec Referendum. However, it is Trudeau’s 1969 “white paper” and the Calder legal challenge which many consider to be one of his most influential contributions to Canadian history.
Trudeau himself was a liberal. One of the core beliefs of liberal ideology is that of individual rights, meaning that individuals can claim rights on behalf of themselves. Trudeau however was very much opposed to the idea of claiming special status or allowing rights to an entire group/collective entity as he outlined in The Just Society. Collective and group rights mean you claim a right on behalf of the group to which you belong to, typically in reference to cultural groups. Due to the emphasis placed on individual freedom in the liberal school of thought, Trudeau was never able to accept this idea. This also resonates in the whole Quebec dispute, where Trudeau is unable to acknowledge Quebec as having special status. It was for this reason that in 1969, he introduced his white paper. In Canadian politics, a policy paper is referred to as a “white paper”. It does not imply anything racially related as many people initially assume. This 1969 white paper proposed the abolition of the Indian Act, due to the fact that it created circumstances which resulted in Aboriginals being treated differently than others within Cana...


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...special status for Quebec and any other province, yet he was willing to recognize the historic rights of Aboriginal peoples so long as recognizing did not entail the actual granting of special status.
Like any politician, Pierre Elliot Trudeau made his mistakes. Aboriginal people also have their reasons to criticize him. The initial perception of the White Paper as that it was an attempt at assimilation. However, Trudeau’s intention was to make a statement of if you want to be as successful and happy as the rest of Canada, you will be treated like the rest of Canada. This man had a vision of a Canada that is unified despite its cultural fragmentation that seems to divide our country at times. Trudeau ushered in an era of settled land claims, self-determination and the acknowledging of First Nations rights like no other prime minister, to this day, has ever done.



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