I was about six years old when I went on my first official trip. I was going with my father and my grandpa Sinclair up to the North Pole. It was a very glamorous destination. But the best thing about it is that I was going to be spending lots of time with my dad because in Ottawa he just worked so hard.
One day, we were in Alert, Canada's northernmost point, [a]scientific military installation that seemed to consist entirely of low shed-like buildings and warehouses. Let's be honest. I was six. There were no brothers around to play with and I was getting a little bored because dad still somehow had a lot of work to do.
I remember a frozen, windswept Arctic afternoon when I was bundled up into a jeep and hustled out on a special top-secret mission. I figured I was finally going to be let in on the reason of this high-security Arctic base. I was exactly right.
We drove slowly through and past the buildings, all of them very grey and windy. We rounded a corner and came upon a red one. We stopped. I got out of the Jeep and started to crunch across toward the front door. I was told, no, to the window.
So I clambered over the snowbank, was boosted up to the window, rubbed my sleeve against the frosty glass to see inside and as my eyes adjusted to the gloom, I saw a figure, hunched over one of many worktables that seemed very cluttered. He was wearing a red suit with that furry white trim.
And that's when I understood just how powerful and wonderful my father was.
Pierre Elliott Trudeau. The very words convey so many things to so many people. Statesman, intellectual, professor, adversary, outdoorsman, lawyer, journalist, author, prime minister. But more than anything, to me, he was dad.
And what a dad. He loved us with the passion and the devotion that encompassed his life. He taught us to believe in ourselves, to stand up for ourselves, to know ourselves and to accept responsibility for ourselves. We knew we were the luckiest kids in the world. And we had done nothing to actually deserve it.
It was, instead, something that we would have to spend the rest of our lives to work very hard to live up to.
He gave us a lot of tools. We were taught to take nothing for granted. He doted on us but didn't indulge. Many people say he didn't suffer fools gladly, but I'll have you know he had infinite patience with us. He encouraged us to push ourselves, to test limits, to challenge anyone and anything. But there were certain basic principles that could never be compromised.
As I guess it is for most kids, in Grade 3, it was always a real treat to visit my dad at work. As on previous visits, this particular occasion included a lunch at the parliamentary restaurant, which always seemed to be terribly important and full of serious people that I didn't recognize.
But at eight, I was becoming politically aware. And I recognized one, whom I knew to be one of my father's chief rivals. Thinking of pleasing my father, I told a joke about him -- a generic, silly little grade-school thing. My father looked at me sternly with that look I would learn to know so well, and said: "Justin, never attack the individual. We can be in total disagreement with someone without denigrating them as a consequence."
Saying that, he stood up and took me by the hand and brought me over to introduce me to this man [Joe Clark] He was a nice man, who was eating there with his daughter, a nice-looking blonde girl a little younger than I was. He spoke to me in a friendly manner for a bit and it was at that point that I understood that having opinions that are different from those of another does not preclude one being deserving of respect as an individual.
Because simple tolerance, mere tolerance, is not enough. We need genuine and deep respect for each and every human being, notwithstanding their thoughts, their values, their beliefs, their origins.
That's what my father demanded of his sons and that's what he demanded of his country. He demanded it out of a sense of love. Love of his sons, love of his country. And that's why we love him so. The letters, the flowers, the dignity shown by the crowds in bidding their farewells -- all of this is as a thank you for having loved us so much.
My father's fundamental belief in the sanctity of the individual never came from a textbook. It stemmed from his deep love for, and faith in, all Canadians. And over the past few days, with every card, every rose, every tear, every wave and every pirouette, you returned his love. It means the world to Sacha and me. Thank you.
We have gathered from coast to coast to coast, from one ocean to another, united in our grief, to say goodbye. But this is not the end. He left politics in '84. But he came back for Meech. He came back for Charlottetown. He came back to remind us of who we are, and what we're all capable of. But he won't be coming back any more. It's all up to us, all of us, now.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep. He has kept his promises and earned his sleep. Je t'aime, papa. From the text of Justin Trudeau's eulogy to his father, delivered yesterday in Montreal.