, Québec , Canada
|| August 09, 1930
Aug 09, 2007 04:14pm
|Info||Jacques Parizeau is an economist and noted Quebec sovereignist who served as Premier of Quebec, Canada, from September 26, 1994 to January 29, 1996. |
The son of Gerard Parizeau and Germaine Biron, Jacques Parizeau attended Collège Stanislas, a Roman Catholic private school and the most elite institution of its kind in Quebec. He went on to graduate with a doctorate from the London School of Economics in London, England. A believer in Keynes' theory of economic interventionism, he was one of the most important advisors to the provincial government during the 1960s, playing an important behind the scenes role in the Quiet Revolution. He was especially instrumental in the nationalization of Hydro-Québec, the nationalization of the Asbestos Corporation Limited mines, and worked with Eric Kierans to create the Quebec Pension Plan.
Parizeau gradually became a committed sovereigntist, and officially joined the Parti Québécois (PQ) on September 19, 1969.
After the PQ was elected to office in the 1976 provincial election, the new premier, René Lévesque, appointed Parizeau as Minister of Finance. Parizeau played an important role in the 1980 Quebec referendum campaign in favour of the government's proposals for sovereignty-association, i.e., political independence from Canada.
As Minister of Finance in Quebec, he was responsible for a number of innovative economic proposals, including the Quebec Stock Savings Plan ("QSSP").
Married to Jewish and Polish immigrant Alice Poznanska (1930-1990), Jacques Parizeau was criticized for supporting the Charter of the French Language. This law limits access to English-language public schools to children whose parents received their education in English in Canada, and was generally opposed by the English-speaking minority.
In 1984, he had a falling out with Lévesque. Lévesque had moved away from pursuing sovereignty to focus on governing Quebec. Parizeau opposed this shift, resigned from Cabinet, and temporarily retired from politics. Lévesque retired soon after and was replaced by Pierre-Marc Johnson.
In 1987, Johnson also left the PQ leadership after losing the 1985 election. Parizeau, still a widely liked figure, was elected to replace him as party leader on March 19, 1988.
In the 1989 election, Parizeau's first as PQ leader, his party did not fare well. But five years later, in the 1994 election, they won a convincing majority government. Parizeau promised to hold a referendum on Quebec sovereignty within a year of his election,and despite many objections, he followed through on this promise. In the beginning, support for sovereignty was only about 40% in the public opinion polls. As the campaign wore on, however, support for the "Yes" side grew larger. This growth halted, however, and Parizeau came under pressure to hand more of the campaign over to the more moderate Lucien Bouchard, the popular leader of the federal Bloc Québécois party. Parizeau agreed, and as the campaign progressed, lost his leadership role to Bouchard.
During the 1995 referendum he caused an uproar when it was reported by columnist Chantal Hébert in the La Presse newspaper that despite the guarantee of an offer of partnership with the rest of Canada before declaring sovereignty following a "Yes" vote, Parizeau had told a group of foreign diplomats that what mattered most was to get a majority vote from Quebec citizens for the proposal to secede from Canada because with that, Quebecers would be trapped "like lobsters thrown in boiling water."
On the night of the referendum, Quebec came within only a few thousand votes of separation, but the Yes side still lost. In his concession speech, Parizeau said sovereignty had been defeated by "money and the ethnic vote", and referred to the Francophones who voted Yes in the referendum as "nous" (us) when he said that this majority group was, for the first time, no longer afraid of political independence. 60% of Quebec Francophones voted Yes.
Parizeau was widely criticized for the remarks, which he later characterized as unfortunate and as meriting the disapproval they received. He resigned as PQ leader and Quebec premier the next day. The English-language media, as well as non-sovereignist newspapers such as La Presse and Le Soleil, associated Parizeau's resignation only with these remarks. However, the sovereignist-friendly media (notably Le Devoir newspaper) argued that he had made the decision beforehand, drawing attention to a television interview conducted on the eve of the vote with the Groupe TVA channel in which Parizeau spoke of his intentions to step down in the event of defeat.
Parizeau was replaced by Lucien Bouchard as PQ leader and Quebec premier on January 29, 1996.
Parizeau retired to private life, but continued to make comments critical of Bouchard's new government and its failure to press the cause of Quebec independence. He owns an estate at his vineyard in France, a farm in the Eastern Townships of Quebec and a home in Montreal. His biographer is Pierre Duchesne.
His wife and former secretary during his PM tenure, Lisette Lapointe won a seat in the National Assembly as a candidate for the PQ in the provincial riding of Crémazie in the 2007 Quebec general election.