Pierre Trudeau

15th Prime Minister of Canada

Biography

Trudeau was born on October 18, 1919 and passed away on September 28, 2000 due to prostate cancer. Born and raised by a bilingual family in the wealthy area of a residential borough called Outremont in Montreal, Quebec. Trudeau attended Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, after which he pursued a law degree at the University of Montreal. Throughout his practice of law, Trudeau specialized in cases involving labor and civil liberty, which essentially brought into focus important issues. In 1961, he joined the staff of the University of Montreal as a professor of constitutional law. He became prime minister from April 20, 1968 to June 4, 1979, and then re-elected from March 3, 1980 to June 30, 1984. Although, The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is one of his greatest political achievements, it's the multiculturalism, equality, and open-minded attitude he encouraged towards social issues that were his ultimate accomplishments. Also, in December 1997, he was named as one of the top Canadian newsmakers of the 20th century, finishing ahead of prime ministers Mackenzie King, Lester Pearson, Wilfred Laurier, and Brian Mulroney, who all made the top ten. This showed not only his popularity as a political figure, but his influential character.

Constitution: Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Primary or Secondary Sources/Factors of Change

A factor of change that caused this revolution to occur was the Changes in Value. A separatist Quebec political party known as the Parti-Québécois (PQ) had a proposal in the 1980 Quebec Referendum on Sovereignty Association. Essentially, what it meant was that, Quebec would be politically independent from Canada while maintaining an economic association or partnership including free trade, tariffs on imports, and a common currency.

Legal Issue

Trudeau was fundamentally against this, and attempted to cease its occurrence. In addition, he wanted to help create a constitutional change for the Quebeckers, as well as for the rest of the nation.

Action Taken

After the 1980 federal election, Trudeau had led the Liberals in his campaign to help defeat the PQ proposal. When the NO side won, Trudeau wanted to make a constitutional change by patriating the constitution from the British under a Constitution Act. This constitution guaranteed minority language and education rights. Furthermore, he entrenched The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, satisfying 9 provinces with the exception of Quebec. This also included an amending formula and a "notwithstanding clause" in which the parliaments/provincial legislature could choose specific sections of the Charter to be omitted.

Successful/ Obstacles

Trudeau was successful in achieving his goal, as Queen Elizabeth signed the Act and proclaimed the Constitution Act, 1982 in Ottawa on April 17, 1982. The Constitution had successfully included the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of the citizens. The only obstacle in the way was the proposal for sovereignty, which didn't go through. As of 2014, Quebec has still not signed the Constitution, even though it was partially created as a response to their "loss".

Legal Tradition (Positive/ Natural)


The legal tradition that Trudeau was most likely influenced by was both positive and natural law. The positive law theory states that law is a set of rules and regulations that are put together by the government for citizens to obey. Trudeau had believed that the Constitution was very essential to the citizens as it would provide the federal government with the authority to make laws for peace and order in the country.


In terms of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Trudeau was influenced by positive and natural law. Since he as a lawmaker had established the Charter, it would be considered as positive law; however the laws that are stated within also show natural law. Natural law states that laws are developed from fixed beliefs and values, or otherwise known as a divine source. Many of the freedoms that are listed in the Charter show a natural law viewpoint. For example, the "right to freedom of conscience and religion" and the "right to life, freedom and safety of the person" show that laws today still come from unchangeable principles and that people follow these laws because of their own natural values and morals.

Lasting Effects on Law

As previously mentioned, Trudeau patriated the Canadian constitution from the British, and entrenched the Charter of Rights and Freedoms into the constitution, which continues to exist to this day. Even after he passed away, he still has an influence on millions of young Canadians who have taken and made his values their own to help create or amend laws to be changed to provide equality for all. He had helped bring the French and the English people together and gave them language rights which also exist to this day.

October Crisis: War Measures Act

Primary or Secondary Sources/Factors of Change

National Emergency was the factor that caused this type of change to occur. The October Crisis had occurred in 1970, in which a British diplomat named James Cross and Québec Cabinet minister Pierre Laporte were both kidnapped by the Front de Libération du Québec (FLQ).

Legal Issue

In response to this, Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act that included extraordinary powers of arrest, detention, and censorship. After the crisis, he came to the realization that the Act needed to be amended.

Action Taken

Trudeau pledged to have the Act refined and limited to internal crises, as there were many ongoing protests that wanted the War Measures Act to be repealed. There were protests over the controversy of the emergency measures being appropriate or not, and how they affected liberal democracy in Canada and Québec.

Successful/ Obstacles

Trudeau wasn't as successful in this attempt, because by the time the final Trudeau government was defeated in 1984, the Act had not been modified. The biggest obstacle in this case was the time limit; since he lost power in 1984, he could not do anything to help implement the amendments in the Act, which resulted in the replacement of it.

Legal Tradition (Positive/ Natural)

The type of legal tradition that Trudeau was most likely influenced by was positive law. The War Measures Act was a federal statute that was first implemented by the parliament in 1914, in response to the First World War, which Trudeau had wanted to refine. This is an example of positive law because it was a law that was already created by the lawmakers or the human authorities that he himself wanted to change so that it was more just and people would have to obey it no matter what.

Lasting Effects on Law

Unfortunately, there were no lasting effects because in 1988, the War Measures Act was essentially repealed and replaced by the Emergencies Act, in order to increase more limited and specific powers for the government to deal with security emergencies. This replacement Act still exists today.

Works Cited

Fawcett, Max. "The Trudeau Generation: Why Pierre Elliot Trudeau Matters More than Ever." The Commons. Web. 11 Mar. 2015. <http://thecommons-ccd.com/2010/09/the-trudeau-generation-why-pierre-elliot-trudeau-matters-more-than-ever/>.


Munroe, Susan. "Sovereignty Association - Quebec Politics." About News. Web. 11 Mar. 2015. <http://canadaonline.about.com/od/quebec/g/sovassociation.htm>.


Munroe, Susan. "Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau: Biography." About News. Web. 11 Mar. 2015. <http://canadaonline.about.com/od/primeminister/a/pms.htm>.


"October Crisis." The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. Web. 11 Mar. 2015. <http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/october-crisis/>.


"Pierre Elliott Trudeau." The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. Web. 11 Mar. 2015. <http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/pierre-elliott-trudeau/>.


"Pierre Trudeau." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television. Web. 11 Mar. 2015. <http://www.biography.com/people/pierre-trudeau-9510956>.


"War Measures Act." The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. Web. 11 Mar. 2015. <http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/war-measures-act/>.