What are ten ways that Pierre Trudeau affected Canada? 

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mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Pierre Trudeau was the fifteenth prime minister of Canada, and before that, the attorney general of Canada. He impacted the lives of Canadians in a number of ways.

  • Trudeau, as the Justice Minister of Canada (similar to the U.S. Attorney General), was the man responsible for authoring the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1968-1969. This amendment modernized Canada's criminal statutes and affected modern Canadians in the following way:
  • Homosexuality was no longer to be considered a crime and, therefore, could not be punished. Prior to the law, citizens could be punished with jail time for homosexual acts. Today, Canada is one of the most progressive countries in the area of gay rights.
  • He was instrumental in granting the women's right to abortions as this was part of the Criminal Law Amendment that he proposed. In a related note, this led to another law decriminalizing the sale of contraceptives.
  • The Criminal Law Amendment that he proposed dealt with modern issues that affect Canadians even today. This included legislation for drinking and driving, regulation of gambling, telephone harassment, and cruelty to animals.
  • He made divorce for women much easier, he was a champion of women's rights in Canada.

Trudeau continued his work as a progressive as Prime Minister. His tenure is widely considered a success, particularly through the lens of a liberal or progressive. As prime minister he achieved the following:

  • Trudeau extended the reach of the welfare system, benefiting the less fortunate of Canada. He fought for a universal health care program. Today, Canada's system of free health care is viewed as a model of success.
  • Trudeau established diplomatic relations with China and was a friend of Fidel Castro in Cuba. The global view of him as a peace seeker improved the opinion of nations towards Canada. He broadened Canada's international profile and entered Canada in the G7 group of major world economic powers.
  • Trudeau was able to defeat a referendum by Quebec to leave Canada and become independent in 1980. With sheer political acumen and drama, he was able to keep Canada as one. At the same time, Trudeau was a champion of bilingualism.
  • Through his efforts to pass the Constitution Act of 1982, Canada was able to sever the remaining ties that it had with the government of England and it was finally truly an independent, sovereign state. This action assured new and widespread rights that Canadians still enjoy today.
  • It should also be noted that Trudeau's son, Justin, is now the Prime Minister of Canada, so there is that legacy as well.