An intellectual and historian on modern Canadian politics and Canada’s political left, UWinnipeg’s Professor Dr. Allen Mills can often be heard on CBC and in the classroom, delving into Canada’s political forum (national and local). Mills has currently been working on a study of the political ideas of the late Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Canada’s 15th prime minister from 1968 to 1984.
This research has resulted in a book-length manuscript that will be published this summer entitled Citizen Trudeau, an intellectual biography, 1944-1965, and an engaging special topics course offered this winter term (POL-3216-001) at UWinnipeg.
“I have been researching the political ideas of Trudeau for about eight years,” explained Mills. “Mainly I have depended on the essays he published in the 1950s in Cite Libre, a Montreal review that he helped found.”
Mills had access to the personal papers of Trudeau from his early life, preserved in the National Archives in Ottawa.
“It was here that I was able to examine personal memorabilia and unpublished papers by him,” expressed Mills. “I also had the chance to visit his home in Montreal where his son Alexandre introduced me to his father’s library. This was one occasion when I risked my life in the cause of scholarship as I perched atop a twenty foot ladder to reach for books on the highest shelves.”
Some regard Trudeau as a controversial yet dynamic politician who had a brilliant mind. In 1982, through the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Trudeau almost single-handedly set Canada on a more rights-oriented pathway, re-shaping the country’s political culture in the process.
“I never met him but I did observe him in the House of Commons on one occasion,” recalls Mills. “I noted how much his very presence dominated the moment. Trudeau’s conception of Canada and of nationalism has become almost the conventional wisdom of the country’s politics. His legacy continues and endures whenever it is argued that politics and majorities cannot trump individual and minority rights.”
Mills is a full professor at UWinnipeg and is currently the Chair of Political Science, Faculty of Arts. He can often be heard in the media providing insight on modern Canadian politics, and the intellectual histories of the Canadian left.