Trudeau was a charismatic figure who, from the late 1960s until the mid-1980s, dominated the Canadian political scene and aroused passionate reactions. "He haunts us still," biographers Christina McCall and Stephen Clarkson wrote. Admirers praise the force of Trudeau's intellect. They salute his political acumen in preserving national unity and establishing the Charter of Rights and Freedoms within Canada's constitution. Detractors fault Trudeau for poor administrative practices, arrogance, and lack of understanding of Canada outside Quebec. Nevertheless, few would dispute that Trudeau was a towering figure who helped redefine Canada.
Trudeau led Canada through some of its most tumultuous times and was often the centre of controversy. Known for his flamboyance, he dated celebrities, sometimes wore sandals in the House of Commons, was accused of using an obscenity during debate there, and once did a pirouette behind the back of Queen Elizabeth II.