I was born late in 1981. Both literally and figuratively. I was born in November, and I was 11 days late.
Shortly after my birth, in April 1982, the country I call home finalized the steps needed in order to secure our independence as a British Colony. Sure, we had the Statute of Westminster in 1931, that gave us the right to not have to go to the British Parliament and subsequently the King when we needed to pass laws. We were free to conduct trade and wage war without jolly olde England’s permission. It was the bit of legislation that let us move from the big house to the guest house King George’s ranch. Sadly though, we were still governed under the antiquated British North America Act of 1867. That meant we still had a curfew, and dad paid our rent.
That changed…in April 1982.
Before I dive in to what happened then, I feel I have to introduce a major character in that play.
Pierre Elliot Trudeau was born in Montreal. Quebec in October 1919. His family was financially comfortable, his father once owned a chain of auto repair garages, an amusement park, and the Montreal Royals baseball team. Because of his families stance on the food chain, Pierre was able to attend University of Montreal, Harvard, The Paris Institute of Political Studies, and the London School of Economics. It was at these institutions he learned the tools of his future trade. It would seem to be destiny that he enter politics, however, not without being a labor lawyer, a world traveler, and a journalist first. It was not until 1965 that Pierre would leave Montreal for Ottawa.
In 1967, he was named Minister of Justice for Canada and introduced Bill C-150. I’ve blogged about this piece of legislation as the reason Canadian politics are boring (see here: Bill C-150). The changes introduced in that bill set the course for April 1982.
In 1968, when Lester B. Pearson retired after 5 years as Prime Minister of Canada, the rising star Trudeau won the Liberal leadership race, and became the 15th Prime Minister of our great nation. When it came time for an election, he swept Canada by storm. Where our political representatives were normally reserved individuals, Trudeau was spontaneous. He was extroverted. He was…in all essence, Canada’s Robert F. Kennedy (fair assessment for the time). Trudeau-mania was in full swing. Men wanted to be him, and women wanted to be with him. A theory and practice that worked well. He would win a majority in 1968, and, save for a 9 month bit of stupidity named Joe Clarke, for the next 16 years he was our fearless leader.
Now, this part is important…while he was Prime Minister, the bachelor Trudeau took a wife and had 3 children. Those 3 children would grow up at 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa, being part of Canada’s first family. However, due to the many issues resulting from the major age difference (she was 29 years his junior) and the rigors of the job, the Prime Minister and Mrs. Trudeau’s marriage did not last.
Now, part of Trudeau’s vision with Bill C-150 was to have a free and independent Canada. One with its own identity, constitution, and bill of rights. A Canada free from the control of the once vast British Empire. It was radical thinking in 1968. However, by 1982 it was a realistic goal.
After several tense negotiations with the leaders of the provinces of Canada, and several debates in the House of Commons, Trudeau achieved more in one document then he did in one lifetime. He left his mark and legacy on Canada, laying out the path for future growth as a nation. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms allowed Canada to be its own country.
Sure, it wasn’t perfect, I mean after all we kept Lizzy the second around for old time sake, and we didn’t recognize Quebec as above the rest of us by naming them a “distinct society”, but hey, we had our own damn constitution and charter of rights and no one could take that away from us!
Pierre would retire from politics in 1984, handing over the reigns of the Liberal Party and the office of Prime Minister over to John Turner after a long walk in the snow. He did go quietly into the good night, until it came time to defend his constitution and charter…twice. He lived a less public life in Montreal until his death in September 2000.
Fast forward to October 2012.
The first born child of Pierre and Margaret Trudeau, Justin, is a rising star in Canadian politics. Now, the 40 year old has only been a sitting member of the house for 4 years, and has survived 2 elections on more then his last name alone. He’s a captive face for the young, educated Canadians. He’s an education advocate, and works relentlessly to improve youth programs across the country.
He is the Great Red Hope. The Prodigal Son if you choose. And on October 2, 2012, he announced his running for the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Now, I’m NOT saying it’ll be a cake walk, but the son of the former Prime Minister, wanting to lead his party in a new age? How do you vote against that? Again, I’m NOT saying he’s going to be the Prime Minister…but this is a man who can hold a news conference to announce nothing on the same day as our Prime Minister is receiving the Humanitarian of the Year Award at the UN. You tell me…
As a young man, Justin offers a chance for Trudeau-mania Revisited. And I’m not kidding. The guy is sexy, his wife is drop dead gorgeous, and his kids are adorable. He’s as much his father’s son with his outside the house antics, choosing to go 3 rounds in a boxing ring with a Conservative opponent for charity. But thank God he got his mom’s looks!