WatchMojo learns how Trudeau attempted to give Canada a sense of self with its Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
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Pierre Elliott Trudeau
Alex Leduc: From impacting the Canadian Constitution to championing multi culturalism and bilingualism in Canada one of Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s main goals was to bring the country together. Hi, I’m Alex Leduc and welcome to WatchMojo.com. Today we’re speaking with biographer John English to learn more about how Trudeau united the country. Why was Trudeau so determined to give Canada its own constitution and charter and how did he feel about the legacy in later years?
John English: When he first came into politics he didn’t want to open it up but then it was opened up by the 67, 68 and he made his name as minister of justice dealing with the demands from Daniel Johnson the Premier of Quebec for equality or independence. But once it was opened then you have to come some sort of bargain, bargain about just division of powers and above all how you amend the constitution within Canada so that was a real accomplishment for him.
On the charter of rights he had always talked about the charter of rights. It’s in the documents producing the 60’s for the labor movement here. He brought it forward to Victoria and 1970, 71 we have this famous discussion where we go back withdrew and we fell apart so he came to believe maybe because of our measures act that individual citizens should be guaranteed rights that are inalienable and secondly that by defining Canadians through a common allegiance to a charter let’s make some freedoms that it would be better sense of nation or what the nation was and so he would see that as his most significant achievement.
Alex Leduc: Tell us about the effect you had on bilingualism and multiculturalism in Canada.
John English: That’s complicated. He was part of the response of the Federal government to the so called Quebec crisis in the 1960’s. He came out to how work on it.
He had skepticism both the bilingualism and multiculturalism Commission. He didn’t like some of their solutions but as things move forward he was strongly committed to bilingualism in the Federal Government. He realize by the later part of the 60’s and early 70’s that it was a tough political cell and he moved them all to culturalism and I think they were three main reasons. One was politically Ukrainians were upset they were being left out, where do they fit, where German Canadians and other groups.
The second reason was that he needed to respond to the change in Canada at that time and to immigration and if immigrants were coming in where do they fit in this. There were crisis in the schools in Quebec relating to language but there are also difficulties in cities too and the third thing is he personally had this anti nationalist notion that the rest of the world is just so fascinating.