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Key Players: 1968-1978 Key Players: 1958–1968 Key Players: 1968-1978 Key Players: 1978-1988

Pierre Elliott Trudeau

Born in Outremont, Quebec, Pierre Elliott Trudeau (1919–2000) was a lawyer, journalist, academic, civil servant and politician. He was educated at the Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf in Montréal, received his B.A. (1940) and his LL.B. (1943) from the Université de Montréal, did graduate work at Harvard in 1945 and then travelled widely. He joined Privy Council as an advisor in 1949, but returned to Quebec to practise labour and civil rights law in 1951. Through the 1950s, Trudeau also wrote on Canadian and Quebec political issues such as federalism. In 1965, he joined the federal Liberal Party, winning election to Parliament where, in 1967, he gained national fame as Minister of Justice through updating the Criminal Code by decriminalizing abortion and homosexuality. Trudeau became Prime Minister in 1968 by winning the Liberal leadership and a majority in the subsequent election. A noted outdoorsman, he was a model of healthy behaviour, shifting attention from curative health services to health promotion. His government emphasized redefining federal–provincial relations from 1968 to 1979, at a time when the rising costs of medicare resulted in policy changes that ultimately produced the 1984 Canada Health Act at the end of his term in office. 

Photo: Pierre Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada (1968–1979 and  1980–1984).

Pierre Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada (1968–1979 and 1980–1984). Yousuf Karsh’s unusual portrait from 1968 heralded what was intended to be a new society, a just society.
Library and Archives Canada, PA-212248. © Estate of Yousuf Karsh.

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    Date Created: March 31, 2010 | Last Updated: April 21, 2010