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2000: Justin Trudeau delivers eulogy for his father Pierre

The Story

Thousands gather in Montreal today to mourn the loss of former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Crowds start streaming in to the Notre-Dame Basilica before dawn, filling the church to capacity and leaving hundreds beyond its doors. Trudeau's eldest son Justin, 28, gives a eulogy that captures his father's wisdom and grace. The young Trudeau's poignant call for all Canadians to carry on the legacy is heard, and felt, nationwide. While Justin Trudeau's words conjure up memories of his father's honourable character and deep commitment to Canada, his dignified and eloquent manner evoke the very man of whom he speaks. "He loved us with the passion and the devotion that encompassed his life," says Justin. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and his wife Aline are among the Canadian mourners. Also in attendance are Cuban President Fidel Castro, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, and Prince Andrew.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Oct. 3, 2000
Speaker: Justin Trudeau
Duration: 12:02

Did You know?

• Justin Trudeau took his opening line, "Friends, Romans, countrymen," from the play Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare. The line begins Mark Anthony's eulogy for Caesar.

• At the end of the eulogy, Justin Trudeau paraphrased Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, by Robert Frost. He changed the poem's last words from "And miles to go before I sleep" to "he has kept his promises and earned his sleep."

• The eulogy sparked speculation over Justin Trudeau's future in politics, despite his being a drama and French teacher in Vancouver.

• The two other eulogies heard at the funeral were given by Roy Heenan, Pierre Trudeau's family friend and business partner, and former senator Jacques Hébert.

• As Trudeau's coffin was carried into the church, the organ played Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. 

• Fidel Castro and Pierre Trudeau established a friendship in the '70s. On a 1976 visit, Trudeau announced "Long live Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro. Long live Cuban-Canadian friendship."

• Pierre Trudeau was born in Montreal on Oct. 18, 1919, to a mother of Scottish descent and a French-Canadian father. In his twenties, Trudeau earned a law degree from the University of Montreal, and a master's degree at Harvard.

• Pierre Trudeau died of prostate cancer on Sept. 28, 2000, in his Montreal home. His two sons and his former wife, Margaret, were at his side. Trudeau also had Parkinson's disease and, earlier that year had battled pneumonia. He suffered a terrible loss in 1998 when his youngest son Michel was killed in an avalanche.

• Pierre Trudeau was prime minister from 1968 to 1979, and from 1980 to 1984.


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