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ISBN: 9780776636597-02

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A Very Canadian Revolution:

The Transformation of Backroom Power in Canada's 1968


From: 1968 in Canada


Pierre Elliott Trudeau was the embodiment of Canada’s 1960s: young, hip, and impatient with the status quo, he bounded onto the political scene with fresh ideas and an image to match. Voters in June 1968 embraced Trudeaumania. But behind the scenes, this chapter argues, Trudeau’s personal mania was for administrative control, and he moved quickly to introduce a series of structural and institutional changes that would have a lasting effect on the Canadian political environment. In the summer of 1968, Trudeau fundamentally restructured cabinet governance and reorganized his own office into a much more powerful locus of partisan power. The balance of power between non-partisan advisors, who reported to the Privy Council Office, and partisan advisors within the Prime Minister’s Office, began to shift in favour of the latter. It was a peculiarly Canadian revolution.



P. E. Bryden

P. E. Bryden is Professor of History at the University of Victoria, and served as president of the Canadian Historical Association from 2019 to 2021. She writes on Canadian political history and the evolution of the modern state, and is the author of Canada: A Political Biography (2016).