Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s Trudeauisms (30 years later)

PM Pierre Trudeau - 1980

PM Pierre Trudeau – 1980

“I walked until midnight in the storm, then I went home and took a sauna for an hour and a half. It was all clear. I listened to my heart and saw if there were any signs of my destiny in the sky, and there were none — there were just snowflakes.”

 

It has been thirty years this week since Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau took that “long walk in the snow” and decided to retire from Parliament Hill (and what all Canadians thought was public life). He is a man who has cast a long shadow on our country. This week By George provides some perspective on our former Prime Minister.

 

Here are some of P.E.T.’s infamous musings while in office:

  • My life is one long curve, full of turning points.
  • Luck, that’s when preparation and opportunity meet.
  • The essential ingredient of politics is timing.
  • In academic life you seek to state absolute truths; in politics you seek to accommodate truth to the facts around you.
  • We wish nothing more, but we will accept nothing less. Masters in our own house we must be, but our house is the whole of Canada.
  • I am trying to put Quebec in its place — and the place of Quebec is in Canada.
  • Canada is a country whose main exports are hockey players and cold fronts. Our main imports are baseball players and acid rain.
  • Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.
  • I believe a constitution can permit the co-existence of several cultures and ethnic groups with a single state.
  • I believe that Canada cannot, indeed, that Canada must not survive by force. The country will only remain united – it should only remain united – if its citizens want to live together in one civil society.
  • The die is cast in Canada: there are two ethnic and linguistic groups; each is too strong and too deeply rooted in the past, too firmly bound to a mother culture, to be able to swamp the other. But if the two will collaborate inside of a truly pluralist state, Canada could become a privileged place where the federalist form of government, which is the government of tomorrow’s world, will be perfected.
  • Bilingualism is not an imposition on the citizens. The citizens can go on speaking one language or six languages, or no languages if they so choose. Bilingualism is an imposition on the state and not the citizens.
  • We peer so suspiciously at each other that we cannot see that we Canadians are standing on the mountaintop of human wealth, freedom and privilege.
  • Canada will be a strong country when Canadians of all provinces feel at home in all parts of the country, and when they feel that all Canada belongs to them 
  • If there is anything that puzzles me in this game, it is that the longer that you are in the job of prime minister, the harder you have to work to do your job. With anything else ….you get to know the ropes pretty well and it becomes easy.  I feel the more you know, the more you have to know and  the more problems come at you.  It is certainly not because I do not delegate.
  • Power only tires those who don’t exercise it.
  • The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.
  • Let us overthrow the totems, break the taboos. Or better, let us consider them cancelled. Coldly, let us be intelligent.
  • The past is to be respected and acknowledged, but not to be worshipped. It is our future in which we will find our greatness.
  • Liberalism is the philosophy for our time, because it does not try to conserve every tradition of the past, because it does not apply to new problems the old doctrinaire solutions, because it is prepared to experiment and innovate and because it knows that the past is less important than the future.
  • Our hopes are high. Our faith in the people is great. Our courage is strong. And our dreams for this beautiful country will never die.
  • There is no such thing as a model or ideal Canadian. What could be more absurd than the concept of an “all Canadian” boy or girl? A society which emphasizes uniformity is one which creates intolerance and hate.
  • Some things I never learned to like. I didn’t like to kiss babies, though I didn’t mind kissing their mothers. I didn’t like to slap backs or other parts of the anatomy. I liked hecklers, because they brought my speeches alive. I liked supporters, because they looked happy. And I really enjoyed mingling with people, if there wasn’t too much of it.
  • What sets a canoeing expedition apart is that it purifies you more rapidly and inescapably than any other. Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal five hundred on a bicycle and you remain basically a bourgeois; paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature.

 

(ed. – This compilation of quotes first appeared in the By George Journal post of June 2010. Source for the photo:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pierre_Elliot_Trudeau-2.jpg )

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