Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ)
Mr. Speaker, with his passing yesterday, Pierre Elliott Trudeau has left us with an indelible impression.
Perhaps he could never imagine the day would come when the leader of a sovereignist political party would rise in the House to add his contribution to those of all the parliamentarians who are paying tribute to his memory.
The tribute to Pierre Elliott Trudeau is a tribute to a man admired by many across Canada and throughout the world for his intelligence, envied for his impressive calibre, and recognized for his great strength of character.
The mere fact that we are all here today in this Chamber to underscore his public contribution, while newspapers all across Canada are also paying tribute to him, marks the importance of this great public figure.
The former Prime Minister, whose frank and direct manner captured the Canadian imagination, would certainly not fault me for my honesty. For those who, like me, promote the sovereignty project for Quebec, Mr. Trudeau represented a major adversary. An adversary for two reasons: as a great intellectual and brilliant orator, he defended his profound convictions with passion and intelligence. An adversary as well because he championed a certain concept of Canada which we could not accept, nor do we to this day.
Pierre Elliott Trudeau was an idealist driven by a political vision, a vision of Canada. It was around that concept of what his country ought to become that he built his political career. That concept changed Quebec-Canada relations forever. The determination of Pierre Elliott Trudeau changed not just mentalities, but Canadian institutions as well, by forcing constitutional changes that reflected his convictions.
His heritage is not merely a constitutional one, however. Pierre Elliott Trudeau impacted heavily on what our societies, both Quebec and Canadian, have become. His influence has been a determining factor in the way we perceive ourselves today.
He modernized Canadian law. He led Canadians on the road to a modern day state which reflected the evolution of our societies. No one will forget the impact he had when, as Minister of Justice, he introduced what is still known, more than 30 years later, as the omnibus bill.
After he became Prime Minister, he pushed for the adoption of the charter of rights and freedoms, which is the foundation of any fair, compassionate and democratic society.
This is not the only thing we will remember about Mr. Trudeau. During the fifties, he had already begun to build a reputation as one of the great intellectuals of the day. Mr. Trudeau, who was a fierce opponent of what became known as the dark ages, showed his beliefs through concrete action, including supporting strikers during the strike in Asbestos and founding Cité libre .
The tributes that are coming from capitals all over the world today also stress the role played at the international level by the former Prime Minister. After taking over from Lester B. Pearson, Mr. Trudeau worked to make Canada a modern state. Opening up relations with China and eastern European countries gave a new meaning to Canada's foreign policy and was a portent of the major changes that were to take place in the world during the eighties.
Mikhail Gorbatchev probably gave a full measure of the man when he said that Pierre Elliott Trudeau was the one person who opened up the possibility of developing ties with the western world.
As a sovereignist and a Quebecer, I recognize the importance of the man. I wish to offer my condolences to his family, his dear children, his friends and to all those who are truly saddened by his loss.
My condolences also go out to the Prime Minister, because I know the man he is mourning is more of a friend than a former Prime Minister.
Subtopic: The Late Right Hon. Pierre Elliott Trudeau