Making the Business of Life Easier

   Finance globeinvestor   Careers globecareers.workopolis Subscribe to The Globe
The Globe and Mail/
Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

  This site      Tips


  The Web Google


  Where to Find It

Breaking News
  Home Page

  Report on Business



Read and Win Contest

Print Edition
  Front Page

  Report on Business




  Arts & Entertainment



  Headline Index

 Other Sections

  Births & Deaths






  Facts & Arguments




  Real Estate









  Food & Dining




  Online Personals

  TV Listings/News

 Specials & Series
  All Reports...

  Where to Find It
 A quick guide to what's available on the site



  Customer Service

  Help & Contact Us



 Web Site

  E-Mail Newsletters

  Free Headlines

  Help & Contact Us

  Make Us Home

  Mobile New

  Press Room

  Privacy Policy

  Terms & Conditions

Pierre Elliott Trudeau:

Pushing a reluctant country into the global spotlight

He performed for the international gallery,
and he was not afraid to insult his audience

Saturday, September 30, 2000

OTTAWA -- On the international stage, Pierre Trudeau was the colourful actor who gave Canadians a sense they shared the limelight and opened the eyes of the world.

He slid down a banister at a 1969 Commonwealth conference, pirouetted behind the Queen in 1977, and antagonized American leaders.

He was the prime minister who grabbed international attention with a success no other Canadian leader equalled. Tributes Thursday showed he remained in the world's memory as a striking figure.

The New York Times called him "Canada's dashing figure." The Washington Post said he "captivated first his nation then much of the world."

It was, however, a captivation that at times rankled.

Mr. Trudeau embarked on initiatives that the country's largest ally, the U.S., viewed as an annoyance, opening relations with Cuba's Fidel Castro, flirting with warmer relations with China and Russia -- but he also irked Americans with rhetoric about independence from the U.S. "elephant."

"There were moments when we really irritated them, and we probably paid a price for that," said Gordon Smith, a foreign-policy adviser to Mr. Trudeau until 1971, and later deputy minister of foreign affairs. "But on the other hand, you've got to get their attention."

Mr. Trudeau began his tenure by deciding that Canada's foreign policy should be focused on "national interests," rather than the role of "helpful fixer," the role promoted by his predecessor, Lester Pearson.

But, Carleton University historian Norman Hillmer said, the revolutionary rhetoric eventually gave way to traditional Canadian multilateralism and peacekeeping.

"When it came right down to it, this was an old-style foreign-policy government."

In 1969, Mr. Trudeau moved to pull Canada's NATO troops out of Europe, settling finally for the withdrawal of half of the 10,000 Canadians stationed there. The move provoked an outcry from Canada's allies in Europe and the U.S.

In the 1972 election, he proposed his "third option," which was to bring Canada into a stance independent of the U.S. He followed with economic nationalism initiatives such as the Foreign Investment Review Agency and the creation of Petro-Canada.

Mr. Trudeau's later initiatives, an effort to promote North-South equity between developed and undeveloped nations and his 1983-84 peace mission, are criticized by many analysts as failures.

The North-South initiative was not accompanied by a dramatic increase in Canadian aid or any success in persuading other countries to increase aid, while his peace mission met with little interest during the Reagan era.

But Mr. Smith said Mr. Trudeau succeeded in engaging countries in relations in a way that a superpower could not, arguing his initiative to warm relations with China served as a model to the world. His profile on the international stage made Canada better appreciated in places such as Africa and India, and expanded its influence.

"Canada was never more visible on the international scene," he said. "He put us on the map, internationally."

7-Day Site Search

Breaking News

Today's Weather


Michael Posner
Ethnic laugh lines
Jeffrey Simpson
Health care: Do we know better than everyone else?

Paul Knox
The rise of anti-anti-Americanism


Editorial Cartoon

Click here for the Editorial Cartoon

Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels

© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Help & Contact Us | Back to the top of this page
[an error occurred while processing this directive]