The Prince of Pine Avenue and the Père de la Patrie: A Machiavellian Analysis of Pierre Trudeau and Rene Lévesque


This study was inspired by the remarkable number of Machiavellian references we noted in journalistic and scholarly accounts of the 1970 War Measures Act and the Québec Referendum that followed a decade later. The notion that Machiavelli’s insights in the sixteenth century might have utility for a critique of 20th century Quebecois political life seemed outrageous and we wanted to explore the validity of such associations. There’s nothing wrong with this. We wanted to see if there was more to them than the shorthand of short-cycle journalism or if they actually possessed enough analytical force to usefully illustrate aspects of that period of Quebec’s history. We discovered that the Machiavellian lens was remarkably illuminating, especially with respect to the clash of two of Quebec’s most influential personalities, Pierre Trudeau and Rene Lévesque although, with the notable exception of Denis Arcand, the connections made at the time failed to extend much beyond attempts to make ad hominum slurs against the principle actors in the drama.

Share and Cite:

King, E. and Sancy, C. (2015) The Prince of Pine Avenue and the Père de la Patrie: A Machiavellian Analysis of Pierre Trudeau and Rene Lévesque. Open Journal of Political Science, 5, 225-235. doi: 10.4236/ojps.2015.54024.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Arcand, D. (Director) (1982). Le Confort et L’indifférence (Documentary). National Film Board of Canada.
[2] BBC (10 September 2013). Quebec Mulls Religious Headwear Ban for Public Workers.
[3] BBC (31 January 2007). No Stoning, Canada Migrants Told.
[4] Brittain, D. (Director) (1986). The Champions Part I-III (Documentary). National Film Board of Canada and Canadian Broad- casting Corporation.
[5] Bronskill, J. (2000). Former PM Had a Way with Words. Leader Post, D2.
[6] CBC (1995). Quebec Referendum Reaction.
[7] Chodos, R., Murphy, R., & Hamovitch, E. (1991). The Unmaking of Canada: The Hidden Theme in Canadian History since 1945. Toronto: J. Lorimer and Co.
[8] Cooper, B. (2000). His Apparent Humility Redoubled His Pride. Calgary Herald, A13.
[9] Corbeil, C. (1982). Little Comfort, No Indifference in Arcand’s View of Referendum. The Globe and Mail, P15.
[10] Derrida, J. (1981). Plato’s Pharmacy. In Dissemination Trans. Barbara Johnson (pp. 61-171). London: Athlone.
[11] Dougherty, K. (1993). Bouchard: No Ifs ands or Buts on Separation. Financial Post, 87, S14.
[12] Dubuc, A. (2007). Montréal versus the ROQ. Trans. and Cited in Lysiane Gagnon, The Globe and Mail.
[13] Fraser, G., & Owen, I. (2003). René Lévesque & the Parti Québécois in Power. Montreal: McGill University Press.
[14] Gazette, M. (1970). Revolutionary Strategy and the Role of the Avant-Garde. Location: Publisher.
[15] Gilbert, A. (1965). Machiavelli: The Chief Works and Others (Three Volumes). Durham, NC: Duke University.
[16] Globe, & Mail (2000). Canadians Pause for Funeral: From Coast to Coast, Former PM Holds the People in His Thrall One Last Time (p. A4).
[17] Handler, R. (1998). Nationalism and the Politics of Culture in Quebec. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.
[18] Johnson, W. (1982). Arcand’s Film Has a Sneer for Everyone. The Globe and Mail, P8.
[19] Kahn, V. (1994). Machiavellian Rhetoric: From the Counter-Reformation to Milton. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
[20] Kelly, M. (1998). The Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
[21] King, E. (2008). Machiavelli’s L’Asino: Troubled Centaur into Conscious Ass. Canadian Journal of Political Science, 41, 279-301.
[22] Laforest, G. (1995). Trudeau and the End of a Canadian Dream. Quebec City: McGill-Queens University Press.
[23] LaSelva, S. V. (1996). The Moral Foundations of Canadian Federalism: Paradoxes, Achievements, and Tragedies of Nationhood. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
[24] Laucius, J. (2000). Innocence over When the Troops Walked in: War Measures Act Put Hundreds in Jail in “Overreaction” to Terrorist Tactics. The Province, A20.
[25] Machiavelli, N. (1988). The History of Florence and of the Affairs of Italy (H. C. Mansfield, & L. F. Banfield, Trans.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
[26] Machiavelli, N. (1996). Discourses on Livy (H. C. Mansfield, & N. Tarcov, Trans.). Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
[27] Machiavelli, N. (1998). The Prince (H. C. Mansfield, & N. Tarcov, Trans.). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
[28] McWhinney, E. (1984). The Constitutional Patriation Project, 1980-82. The American Journal of Comparative Law, 32, 241-267.
[29] Milne, D. (1982). The New Canadian Constitution. Toronto: J. Lorimer.
[30] National Film Board of Canada (2009). Comfort and Indifference.
[31] Paquin, S. (2001). La revanche des petites nations: Le Québec, l’écosse et la Catalogne face à la mondialisation. Montréal: VLB.
[32] Parel, A. (1986). The Fatherland in Machiavelli. In J. M. Porter, & R. Vernon (Eds.), Unity, Plurality and Politics: Essays in Honor of F.M. Barnard (pp. 62-83). London and Sydney: Croom Helm.
[33] Paulin, M. (2004). René Lévesque (Trans. Jonathan Kaplansky). Montreal: Fitzhenry & Whiteside.
[34] Peritz, I. (2007). Can a Son Shine Where a Father Reigned? Globe and Mail, April 25.
[35] Tetley, W. (2007). The October Crisis, 1970: An Insider’s View. Montréal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
[36] Tough, D. (2008). Trudeau through the Looking Glass. The UnderHill Review.
[37] Winsor, H. (1980). A Quintet with Keys of History. The Globe and Mail, P7.
[38] Zolf, L. (1984). Just Watch Me: Remembering Pierre Trudeau. Toronto: James Lorimer and Co.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.