On today’s date in 1965, Pierre Trudeau won his first seat in the House of Commons as a Liberal MP for Mount Royal.
Trudeau was one of 131 Liberals to win seats in the 1965 federal election, which saw prime minister Lester B. Pearson return to power. The Liberals lost some of the popular vote from the previous election; however, the party was able to win more seats despite falling short of a majority government.
Trudeau was eventually named Pearson’s parliamentary secretary before becoming the country’s justice minister, a position which allowed him to introduce divorce law reform and liberalize laws on homosexuality and abortion.
On April 6, 1968, at the Liberal leadership convention, Trudeau was elected as the party’s leader. Two weeks later, on April 20, he was sworn in as prime minister before calling an election for June 25.
In December 1999, Trudeau was named “top Canadian newsmaker of the 20th century.”
He worked to implement the Official Languages Act, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the War Measures Act and wage and price controls.
He appointed the first woman Speaker in the House of Commons as well as Canada’s first female Governor-General Jeanne Sauvé.
The son of a French-speaking millionaire businessman and an English-speaking mother, Trudeau was born in Montréal on Oct. 18, 1919. He graduated from Montréal’s Jesuit Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf in 1940 and received a law degree from the Université de Montréal in 1943. He then went on to study at Harvard, the École libre des sciences politiques in Paris and the London School of Economics.
Trudeau was popular with many Canadians as “Trudeaumania” swept the country.
He was narrowly re-elected in 1972, forming a minority government with the NDP’s support. After being re-elected with a majority in 1974, the Liberal Party was defeated in 1979 – leading to Trudeau’s decision to resign as party leader and retire from public life – but the following year, he returned as prime minister.
Trudeau remained in power until June 30, 1984.
He died on Sept. 28, 2000.
Trudeau’s son Justin has served as Canada’s 23rd prime minister since 2015.
CANADA POST TRIBUTE
On July 1, 2001, Canada Post issued a domestic-rate stamp to commemorate the elder Trudeau’s life and career.
Designed by Tom Yakobina, of Montréal, the stamp features a portrait of Trudeau by Myfanwy Pavelic. The portrait currently hangs in the south corridor of the Centre Block in the Parliament Buildings, where it was unveiled on May 1, 1992.
Printed by Ashton Potter, the stamp was printed using seven-colour lithography and measures 32 millimetres by 40 millimetres (vertical).