Ask anybody about Pierre Trudeau’s major contributions to Canadian politics, and you will find many who will point to the repatriation of the constitution, and the enshrinement in our new constitution of our now world-famous Charter of Rights & Freedoms.
That Charter has resounded throughout the world, and is used as a template wherever people gather to draft democratic reforms for other countries.
It defined in unmistakable terms the red line where the rights of the Canadian state ended and the rights and freedoms of Canadians began. And it has been even more significant in that it has changed our culture to one where we now think in terms of the rights and freedoms of the individual as a logical starting point in assessing any proposed law or governmental action.
Pierre Trudeau had a fierce love of democracy, and a distrust of extremes. He saw the Charter as a way to build a country that was more democratic than it had been.
Should Justin Trudeau become leader of the Liberal Party, it is probable that he will be either the next prime minister or the deputy prime minister in a government replacing the Stephen Harper new Tories.
One of the things he will have to think seriously about is what kind of a legacy he could leave when he finally steps down from active politics. He is aware of the massive contribution his father made to building and extending our democracy.
He must want to do something equally significant.
The one legacy he could leave would be to remedy our democratic deficit by insisting on legislation requiring our archaic and undemocratic first past the post system of electing our MPs being changed to a modified proportional representation system (MPR).
Having a MPR system of electing our MPs would at a stroke move Canada from the democratic backwaters we are in, to the forefront of democracies. We would take our place amongst those advanced nations that now have similar electoral systems, which make sure every vote counts, that every portion of the country has representation in parliament, and that every major political party has a fair voice in our nation’s affairs.
That one change alone will guarantee Justin Trudeau a legacy equal to that of his father’s, even if he does no more.