Pierre Elliott Trudeau:
Parents, teachers grateful for legacy of bilingualism
By BRIAN LAGHI
The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, October 3, 2000
CASSELMAN, ONT. -- He may have misunderstood the West and caused division in Quebec, but in this small bilingual community east of Ottawa, the locals say Pierre Trudeau got it just right.
More than 1,000 residents of this French-English enclave lined the railway tracks yesterday to remember the man whose policies have given them greater control over their children's education and eased their fears of assimilation within the larger English-speaking population.
"He's always stood up for our rights," said 17-year-old Jean-François Asselin, one of hundreds of French-language students who stood in the morning sun to say goodbye. "Of all those who have come and gone, he always stood out."
The hallways of Mr. Asselin's high school stood empty yesterday as students joined scores of adults at the side of the tracks to clap, salute and wave flags while Mr. Trudeau's funeral train rumbled past.
A massive Canadian flag hung from the ladder of the village's fire truck, while several other mourners unfurled the Franco-Ontarian flag -- a green-and-white banner that depicts both the Quebec Fleur-de-lis and the Ontario trillium. Others took photographs as Mr. Trudeau's eldest son, Justin, stood in the train's doorway waving
Many remembered positively Mr. Trudeau's legacy of bilingualism.
Mr. Asselin said Mr. Trudeau's effort to protect the francophone minority, and beef up French-language education rights make him secure that he can live anywhere in Canada and be comfortable.
One of Mr. Asselin's teachers, Marcel Brault, said: "Trudeau reflected what franco-Ontarians should be. He is the model for the culture."