Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Trudeau Remembered for Redefining Canada ; Former Prime Minister's Legacy Includes Everything from Bilingual Breakfast-Cereal Boxes to the Canadian Constitution

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Trudeau Remembered for Redefining Canada ; Former Prime Minister's Legacy Includes Everything from Bilingual Breakfast-Cereal Boxes to the Canadian Constitution

Article excerpt

Thank you, Pierre.

From simple messages of gratitude, to paeans of praise, Canada collectively paid tribute this weekend to its most famous son: Pierre Trudeau, the man with the red rose in his lapel.

But the forces that Mr. Trudeau - Canada's charismatic former prime minister - unleashed are still at work, shaping Canada's destiny.

Trudeau, who died Thursday, and will be given a state funeral in Montreal tomorrow, redefined the national ideal. He was the Franco- Quebecker English Canada turned to to save the country from breaking apart.

His solution to the challenge of rising Francophone nationalism was not to give more power to the provincial Quebec government, but to entrench individual language rights, including the right to education, across Canada - to make Canada a country where both Francophones and Anglophones felt at home. Today, his legacy lives on even in such mundane things as bilingual packaging for breakfast cereals.

His actions included giving Canadians their own Constitution, complete with a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, not unlike the Bill of Rights attached to the US Constitution. The Charter has been hugely popular, and the implications of its guarantees of individual liberties are just beginning to become apparent as cases on all manner of issues - from same-sex marriages to native fishing rights - work their way through the courts.

But Trudeau, a Liberal and federalist, made no small number of enemies along the way. Lucien Bouchard, Quebec's sovereigntist premier, praised Trudeau at a press conference as a "great Canadian, a great man," but went on to recall how strongly he had acted against the Front de Libration du Qubec in 1970: "He suppressed individual rights in Quebec. He had hundreds of people arrested without accusations."

Similarly, Joe Clark, the Tory leader who served as prime minister in 1979-80, interrupting the Trudeau years that began in 1968 and ended in 1984, commented in the House of Commons, "It's ironic . …

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