Former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau -- who swept to power on a wave of what was called "Trudeau-mania" and led Canada for more than a decade -- announced on Wednesday (21 November) he is stepping down as head of the opposition Liberal Party.
Former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau -- who swept to power on a wave of what was called "Trudeau-mania" and led Canada for more than a decade -- announced on Wednesday (21 November) he is stepping down as head of the opposition Liberal Party. His surprise announcement comes six months after his government was defeated in general elections which ended sixteen years of Liberal power -- eleven of them under his leadership. He has asked Liberal Party officials to call a convention next March to choose his successor.
SYNOPSIS: Trudeau -- committed federalist and a bilingual Quebecker -- says he will continue to fight as he always has against Quebec separatism.
Trudeau's jet-set image changed in 1971 when he married. He and Margaret Trudeau were, for a time, Canada's favourite couple, but in 1977 they parted. The separation brought political trouble, but Trudeau rode it out with typical panache.
Trudeau's next test of public support was the June elections. He faced the challenge of Conservative Joe Clark -- a thirty eight year-old rapid-firing leader in a similar mould to Trudeau himself. But Clark was just one of his problems -- the ever-present strain go separatist demands from the province of Quebec, the ailing dollar, inflation and unemployment undermined his popularity.
Until June election, Trudeau had rarely lost his footing. But after ten years in power, "Trudeaumania" had died. Throughout his career as leader of the Liberal party, Trudeau also led Canada. But this time his election campaign theme of national unity didn't catch on and Canadians decided they wanted a change.