20 Apr Pierre Elliott Trudeau Sworn in as Canada’s 15th Prime Minister
On this day in 1968, Pierre Elliott Trudeau is sworn in as the 15th Prime Minister of Canada.
A popular leader, Trudeau’s administration lasted all the way until 1984, making him the third longest serving Prime Minister in Canada’s history after serving for a total of 15 years. His career is considered polarising, as his supporters credit his intellect, while his critics call him arrogant. He was the Prime Minister who introduced Canada’s famed bilingualism, as many Canadian’s supported speaking French at the time. Trudeau envisioned Canada as a bilingual confederation in which all cultures would have a place, and later said he regretted introducing bilingualism as a term as it caused limitations on that front.
Trudeau was the Prime Minister of Canada during Ritchie Yorke’s residency in the country. Ritchie praised Trudeau’s commitment to the arts after the PM implemented programs that gave funding to Canadian film and broadcasting companies, and though these laws are sometimes still considered controversial, Canadian media industries only grew and solidified during Trudeau’s reign. Ritchie was introduced to Trudeau by his friend, Patrick Gossage, who was currently working as the PM’s press secretary. Through this connection, Ritchie was not only able to connect the Lennon’s with Trudeau, but also established a friendship with the Prime Minister.
Ritchie also oversaw the widely publicised meeting between John Lennon and Yoko Ono and the Canadian Prime Minister. The couple met Trudeau on the 23rd December, 1969 and they talked for almost an hour. Lennon and Ono used the time to push their message of peace to Trudeau, a message he took kindly to, as the ex-Beatle and his wife called him “a beautiful person”. Trudeau was the first politician to accept a meeting from Lennon, and it is commonly seen as a pivotal moment for musicians to be able to speak their opinions on the world’s issues. More information about the meeting and the other events of the Canadian leg of the War Is Over! campaign can be found here.
Pierre Elliott Trudeau remains highly regarded by Canadians, and his legacy is fondly remembered. He is praised for his fierce representation of the Canadian identity and he is regarded as one of the most dominant and transformative figures in Canada’s political history.