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Alone at the Top
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Tribute to the Right Honourable Pierre Elliott Trudeau, House of Commons, September 29, 2000

Pierre Elliott Trudeau was a man like no other.

A man of brilliance and learning. A man of action. A man of grace and style. A man of wit and playfulness. A man of extraordinary courage. A complex man, whose love of Canada was pure and simple.

Pierre wrote about "a man who never learned patriotism in school, but who acquired that virtue when he felt in his bones the vastness of his land and the greatness of its founders." Pierre, too, came to love this land as he climbed its mountain peaks, conquered the rapids of its rivers and wandered the streets of its cities.

Whistler and Mt. Tremblant; the Nahanni and the St. Lawrence; Yonge Street and St. Denis-these Canadian places he felt in his bones and knew in his heart.

Once he told me that after reading the great novel Maria Chapdelaine he wanted to follow the journey of François Paradis. He departed from La Tuque. Alone, he travelled the northern forest of La Mauricie to Lac Saint Jean. This shows you how much he loved the story and the soil of his country.

Pierre Trudeau was a colleague, a mentor and a friend. He set in motion forces of change that are still shaping the soul of a people and a nation.

Pierre Trudeau's motto was: "Reason over passion." But it was his passion for Canada that defined him. It was his dream of a just society that captured the imagination of the country. And made the entire world sit up and take notice. That inspired so many young people to public service. That forever changed an entire generation of Canadians.

Pierre Trudeau was an architect of the Quiet Revolution and the modern Quebec. He also dreamed of a modern Canada. And he made that dream come true.

He came to this House of Commons to build a country in which French-speaking Canadians have their rightful place -- from sea to sea. A Canada of two official languages. A Canada that celebrates diversity. A compassionate Canada, that affords all of its citizens an equal opportunity to succeed in life; whatever their background or beliefs; whether rich or poor. A Canada that is active in the world; engaged in the cause of freedom, peace and justice. A champion of developing countries.

His political legacy is enormous. And the centre piece, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, made him most proud. And allowed me, as Minister of Justice at the time, the opportunity to have many very personal discussions with him on a subject that fired his passions.

Pierre Trudeau was a giant of our times. And a great Canadian.

Today, Canadians share the grief of his family. We prayed with them during those sad days after Michel died. And during Pierre's final illness. Now that magnificent and eloquent voice is silent. But his deeds and thoughts will last as long as people cherish courage, commitment and Canada-the country he so loved.

Pierre. You made us young. You made us proud. You made us dream.

Thank you, dear friend. And farewell.

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Source: Office of the Prime Minister. Web site: Downloaded January 29, 2001.


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