Pierre Elliott Trudeau, former Primer Minister, is now also the father of Canada’s newest leader. Justin Trudeau, his son, was elected Canada’s Prime Minister just last night. This is the first time in Canada’s history that a child has followed a parent into office. Read on to learn more about the former leader.
1.He Was Prime Minister Twice, For 15 Years Altogether
In 1968 he became the 15th Prime Minister of Canada and held this position until 1979. He was re-elected in 1980 and served until 1984.
After joining the liberal party and being elected to Parliament, he held the roles of parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Lester Pearson and was named minister of justice before becoming Prime Minister himself, according to the Canadian Encyclopedia.
He officially resigned from politics in 1984.
2.He Passed Away in 2000
Trudeau died on September 28, 2000 in Montreal from prostate cancer. He had also been suffering with Parkinson’s disease, according to biography.com.
He almost made it to his 81st birthday on October 18, which is also the day his grandson, Xavier (Justin’s son) was born.
3.He Wasn’t Always Well-liked
Trudeau’s former colleagues were moving toward the idea of an independent Québec but Trudeau became a sharp critic of contemporary Québec nationalism and argued for a Canadian federalism in which English and French Canada would find a new equality, according to The Canadian Encyclopedia.
Also, on the night before his first election there was a parade in which he, along with other leaders, was bombarded by Quebec nationalists who threw rocks and bottles at him in an attempt to disrupt the event, according to canadahistory.ca.
He also had some marital problems. He married his wife, Margaret Sinclair, who was 28 years younger than him, in 1971. They separated in 1977 due to “many well-publicized differences,”and divorced him in 1984, according to the Canadian Encyclopedia.
At the same time, some people loved Trudeau, and the word Trudeaumania is actually used to describe his fans who celebrated his charisma.
4.He Has Four Children
Justin, Alexandre (Sacha) and Michel Trudeau are his sons. Justin, the oldest, was elected Prime Minister last night and has three children of his own with wife Sophie Gregoire. Alexandre, a journalist and filmmaker is different from his brother Justin. “He is more of an introvert. Justin is more of an extrovert. They are very different individuals and they let each other have their own space. [But]they have deep love for each other,” says Gregoire in an interview with The Globe and Mail. Michel, the youngest, was killed in an avalanche while skiing in 1998.
He also has a daughter, Sarah Elisabeth Coyne, who was just nine-years-old when he died. Not much is known about Coyne, half-sister to the Trudeau boys, and the public didn’t even know of her existence until four months after her birth when it came out that Trudeau had been listed as the father on her birth certificate along with mother Deborah Coyne, according to The Star.
Pierre is said to have taught his sons to box, play kick-the-can, made human pyramids, play Marco Polo and would even drill them on history, poetry and religion, according to The Star.
Justin, who looked up to his father and eventually followed in his political footsteps as Prime Minister, told Liberal,
All my life I had wanted more than anything to become a dad. I was inspired by the extraordinary father I’d had, the example he set for me to follow.
Trudeau often talks about some of the lessons he learned as a child, he told The Star:
My father got to introduce us to amazing people,” he said. “I got to understand that, regardless of whatever station or responsibility someone had, they’re just people … That was an important thing for me to learn as a kid.
5.There is an Airport and Foundation in His Name
The Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport is located in Montreal and was established in the 1940s.
The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation is a charity established in 2001 as a memorial to the former prime minister by his family, friends, and colleagues. The mission of the charity is to encourage research and action in human rights and dignity, responsible citizenship, Canada’s role in the world, and people and their natural environment, according to the website. The charity grants scholarships, fellowships and holds events.