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category: Political Science
published: May 2018
publisher: UBC Press

The Constant Liberal

Pierre Trudeau, Organized Labour, and the Canadian Social Democratic Left

by Christo Aivalis

tagged: history & theory, post-confederation (1867-), labor & industrial relations

Pierre Elliott Trudeau – radical progressive or unavowed socialist? His legacy remains divisive. The Constant Liberal traces the charismatic politician’s relationship with the left and labour movements throughout his career. Christo Aivalis argues that Trudeau was in fact a consistently classic liberal, driven by individualist and capitalist principles. This comprehensive analysis showcases the interplay between liberalism and democratic socialism that defined Trudeau’s world view – and shaped his use of power. The Constant Liberal suggests that Trudeau’s leftist activity was less a call for social democracy than a warning to fellow liberals that lack of reform could undermine liberal-capitalist social relations.

About the Author

Christo Aivalis

CHRISTO AIVALIS is a historian teaching modern Canadian history at Queen's University and the Royal Military College. He lives in Kingston, Ontario.
Contributor Notes

Christo Aivalis is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council postdoctoral fellow in the Department of History at the University of Toronto. His work has appeared in the Canadian Historical Review, Labour/Le Travail, Our Times, Canadian Dimension, and Active History. He is currently working on a biography of Canadian labour leader A.R. Mosher.

Editorial Reviews

[Aivalis’s] careful re-telling of the historical record provides a useful and interesting narrative which will be of interest to many readers today, and provides considerable fodder for thought as we engage in current political debates.

— The Broadbent Blog

The Constant Liberal is a worthy and useful contribution to the considerable body of literature surrounding the life and career of Pierre Elliott Trudeau. It offers a partial corrective to popular perceptions of Trudeau, illustrating the more conservative aspects of his beliefs and thinking in the process. Above all, in drawing from an often neglected body of source material, The Constant Liberal serves as an exposition of a once powerful and influential current of Canadian political thought, now largely tamed or dormant.

— Literary Review of Canada

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