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Constitution Act, 1982

The Constitution Act, 1982 enshrined the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the Constitution, and completed the unfinished business of Canadian independence — allowing Canadians to amend their own Constitution without requiring approval from Britain.

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Pierre Elliott Trudeau

Pierre Elliott Trudeau, PC, CC, prime minister of Canada 1968–79 and 1980–84, politician, writer, constitutional lawyer (born 18 October 1919 in Montréal, QC; died 28 September 2000 in Montréal).

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October Crisis

The October Crisis began 5 October 1970 with the kidnapping of James CROSS, the British trade commissioner in Montréal, by members of the Front de Libération du Québec (FLQ).

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Notwithstanding Clause

Section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is known as the notwithstanding clause. Also known as the override clause, it is part of the Constitution of Canada. The clause allows federal, provincial or territorial governments to temporarily override, or bypass, certain Charter rights. These overrides are subject to renewal after five years. Although the clause is available to governments, its use is politically difficult and therefore rare. It is known colloquially as the “nuclear option,” because its use is considered extremely severe. Since the Constitution was patriated in 1982, the clause has been used only a handful of times by various provinces. The federal government has never invoked the clause.

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War Measures Act

The War Measures Act was a federal law adopted by Parliament on 22 August 1914, after the beginning of the First World War. It gave broad powers to the Canadian government to maintain security and order during “war, invasion or insurrection.” It was used, controversially, to suspend the civil liberties of people in Canada who were considered “enemy aliens” during both world wars. This led to mass arrests and detentions without charges or trials. The War Measures Act was also invoked in Quebec during the 1970 October Crisis. The Act was repealed and replaced by the more limited Emergencies Act in 1988.

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Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or simply the Charter, is the most visible and recognized part of Canada’s Constitution. The Charter guarantees the rights of individuals by enshrining those rights, and certain limits on them, in the highest law of the land. Since its enactment in 1982, the Charter has created a social and legal revolution in Canada. It has expanded the rights of minorities and criminal defendants, transformed the nature and cost of criminal investigations and prosecutions, and subjected the will of Parliament and the legislaturesto judicial scrutiny — an ongoing source of controversy.

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Trudeau Shuffles Cabinet

In anticipation of the federal election in the fall, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shuffled his Cabinet, moving Jody Wilson-Raybould from justice to veterans affairs, and naming Jane Philpott President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government. Trudeau called Philpott a “natural choice” for her new role and attempted to dispel the notion that Wilson-Raybould’s move was a demotion, saying, “She is extraordinarily capable of delivering on this file that is one of the core delivery mandates that the federal government has.”

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Justin Trudeau and Liberal Party Win Minority Government

Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party won re-election with a minority government, despite losing 20 seats for a total of 157. They also secured the lowest ever share of the popular vote (33 per cent) by a victorious party in a federal election. Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives received 34 per cent of the popular vote and increased their seat count from 95 to 121. The Bloc Québécois regained official party status with 32 seats, while the NDP fell from 39 seats to 24 and the Green Party increased their seat total from two to three. Jody Wilson-Raybould was the lone independent. The Liberal victory also breathed new life into the Western separatist movement, as the Conservatives’ loss left many in Alberta and Saskatchewan feeling disgruntled and alienated.

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Federal Government Apologizes for MS St. Louis

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a formal apology in the House of Commons for the government’s decision in 1939 to turn away 907 Jewish refugees aboard the MS St. Louis, 254 of whom eventually died in the Holocaust. Noting Canada’s anti-semitic immigration policies at the time, Trudeau said, “We apologize to the 907 German Jews aboard the MS St. Louis, as well as their families. We are sorry for the callousness of Canada’s response. And we are sorry for not apologizing sooner.” 

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Justin Trudeau Apologizes for Mistreatment of Inuit with Tuberculosis

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized to Inuit for the federal government’s policy on tuberculosis in the mid-20th century, calling it “colonial” and “purposeful.” “For too long,” he said, “the government’s relationship with Inuit was one of double standards, and of unfair, unequal treatment. Canada must carry that guilt and that shame.” The apology, made in Iqaluit, was part of the Nanilavut initiative, which will assist Inuit in finding gravesites of family members. “We are sorry for forcing you from your families, for not showing you the respect and care you deserved,” Trudeau said. “The racism and discrimination that Inuit faced, was, and always will be, unacceptable.”

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Seven Syrian Children Die in Halifax House Fire

The seven children of Ebraheim and Kawthar Barho, Syrian refugees who immigrated to Canada in 2017, were killed in an early morning house fire in Halifax’s Spryfield area. The children’s ages ranged from four months to 15 years. Halifax deputy fire chief Dave Meldrum called the death toll “the largest loss that we have in our memory.” A vigil held the next day was attended by hundreds of people, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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Pictures and Video Surface of Justin Trudeau in Blackface

In the midst of a federal election campaign, Time magazine published a photo from the 2001 yearbook of Vancouver’s West Point Grey Academy showing a then-29-year-old Justin Trudeau with dark makeup on his face, neck and hands as part of an “Arabian Nights” costume. Trudeau told assembled media that “It’s something that I didn’t realize was racist at the time, but now I recognize it was something racist to do and I regret.” He also confessed to wearing blackface makeup when he sang Harry Belafonte’s “Banana Boat Song (Day-O)” in a talent show as a high school student. A video surfaced of a third, undated instance of Trudeau in blackface. He admitted that he could not rule out the possibility of other instances.

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Court Ruling Halts Expansion of Trans Mountain Pipeline

In a unanimous decision, the Federal Court of Appeal quashed approval of the $9.3-billion pipeline expansion on the grounds that First Nations in the area had not been adequately consulted and the impact of tanker traffic on endangered killer whales had not been considered. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote in a tweet that, “the federal government stands by the TMX expansion project and will ensure it moves forward in the right way."

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Jody Wilson-Raybould Resigns from Cabinet Amid SNC-Lavalin Scandal

Jody Wilson-Raybould, who had been Justice Minister until a Cabinet shuffle on 14 January, resigned from Cabinet days after news broke that the Prime Minister’s Office allegedly pressured her to help Quebec construction firm SNC-Lavalin avoid facing criminal prosecution. In the wake of the news, Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary Gerald Butts resigned on 18 February and a federal hearing on the issue was held beginning on 20 February. In her testimony to the hearing on 27 February, Wilson-Raybould claimed that almost a dozen senior government officials made a “sustained effort” to convince her to drop charges against SNC-Lavalin. Trudeau disagreed with her recollection of events and claimed that he and his staff “always acted appropriately and professionally” on the matter.

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Justin Trudeau

Justin Pierre James Trudeau, PC, 23rd prime minister of Canada 2015–present, teacher, public issues advocate (born 25 December 1971 in Ottawa, ON). The son of Pierre Trudeau, the former prime minister, Justin has repeatedly defied expectations. In 2007, he won the Liberal nomination in the Montréal riding of Papineau, beating the establishment’s candidate. A year later, he was elected to the House of Commons, confounding pundits who insisted the Trudeau name was political poison among francophone voters. After winning the Liberal Party leadership in 2013, Trudeau propelled the party from third place to first in the House, becoming prime minister at the head of a majority government in 2015. Although Trudeau’s Liberals lost support in the 2019 election, they won enough seats to form a minority government.