Justin, right, and Alexandre Trudeau
smile during a ceremony to rename a
university centre on peace studies after
their late father. (CP /Aaron Harris)
TORONTO (CP) - The world is an "ugly
place" rife with violence and human misery,
but Canadians have the power to change that,
Justin and Alexandre Trudeau said Tuesday during a
ceremony to rename a university centre after their
The sons of former prime minister Pierre
Trudeau helped unveil the Pierre Elliott Trudeau
Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the
University of Toronto - an important first step,
they said, on the path to global peace. "I
don't think it's overstating the case that the
world has become a very ugly place these
days," Justin Trudeau, 32, told the crowd
brimming with scholars and dignitaries.
"This new century needs to be one of
dialogue, understanding and peace."
The former teacher, who's now focusing much of
his time promoting the Katimavik youth volunteer
program, said empowering "young minds"
will help solve raging conflicts in a world
thirsting for stability.
"We are truly at a pivotal point in the
history of humanity. We are at a place where what
we do or don't do this century will simply
determine our future."
His brother Alexandre Trudeau, 30, a
documentary filmmaker, acknowledged that Canadians
are lucky to "live in a country where there
is peace, justice and tolerance while the world is
These Canadian values must be championed
abroad, he added, noting his father's idealism.
"We struggle to understand what went on
now more than ever, because things seem to be
getting worse and worse."
The brothers expressed gratitude to the
university for renaming the centre after their
father, who was lauded by former Ontario premier
Bob Rae as "a great prime minister and a
"All of us who have been in public life
over the last 50 years have been profoundly
affected by his example," said Rae, chairman
of the centre's advisory board.
The centre promotes research on the root causes
of mass violence - including wars, ethnic strife,
terrorism and genocide - and ways to lessen its
The ceremony also launched a $4.3-million
campaign to raise funds for visiting scholars,
scholarships and bursaries, mentorship programs
and an annual lecture series. The money will also
refurbish the centre's study space, seminar rooms
and a resource centre dedicated to Trudeau's
speeches and letters on foreign affairs, justice
and public policy.
Pierre Trudeau, who was prime minister from
1968 to 1979 and again from 1980 to 1984, died in
During his life he witnessed firsthand the
effects of global conflict, travelling to Europe,
the Middle East and Asia.
He later wrote in his memoirs: "The route
that I had chosen was strewn with the obstacles of
the conflicts of that time. It was
For professor Thomas Homer-Dixon, director of
the centre, the former prime minister emulated the
values he believes students and faculty strive to
"Trudeau symbolizes ideals we encourage
our students to achieve - pursuit of a just
society tempered by intellect and