Jonquière, Québec , Canada
|| December 22, 1938
Jan 08, 2017 11:36pm
Quebecois - Divorced - Married - Widowed - Disabled -
|Info||The Honourable Lucien Bouchard, PC , B.Sc , LL.B is a Quebec lawyer and politician. He was the Leader of Opposition in the Canadian House of Commons from 1993 to 1996, and Premier of Quebec from January 29, 1996 to March 8, 2001. |
Bouchard graduated from Jonquière Classical College in 1959, and obtained a Bachelor's degree in social science and a law degree at Université Laval in 1964. He passed Quebec's bar later that year.
He practised law in Chicoutimi until 1985, while being given many charges as a public servant over the years: president of the arbitration commitee for the education sector (1970 to 1976), prosecutor in chef for the commission for labour and industry (Cliche commission -- 1974 to 1975), co-president of the study commission on the public and parapublic sectors (Martin-Bouchard commission — 1975). From then, he acted as a coordinator or member of many special teams on behalf on Quebec's government in the trade union negotiations for the public sector. A very capable negotiator, he will, once retired from politics, often be asked to take part in such negotiations both for the industry and public sector.
Bouchard's relationship with politics is a complex one, as he affiliated himself over the years with various political parties with highly diverging ideologies, going as far as founding one, the Bloc Québécois, at one point. Without speculation, it seems reasonable to say Bouchard has been a Quebec nationalist during his entire political career; his convictions as a Canadian federalist or a Quebec sovereignist were more changing.
He worked for the federalist Liberal Party of Quebec's campaign of 1970, but was deeply shaken by the events of Quebec's October Crisis, especially by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's imposition of martial law. At the same time, he was a great admirer of Premier René Lévesque, and later made a habit of quoting Lévesque in speeches.
Bouchard worked with the "Yes" side during the 1980 Quebec referendum on sovereignty. In 1985, he was appointed ambassador to France by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, a then close friend of his whom he had met in Université Laval. He joined Mulroney's Progressive Conservative government in 1988 as Secretary of State and later Minister of the Environment, and served until 1990. While still a strong Quebec nationalist, he converged with Mulroney on the belief that, with a new constitutional arrangement, Quebec's position within Canada could be improved. His stance of the 1980s, endorsing renewed federalism instead of separatism, has been called a symptom of the "Post-Referendum Syndrome" that existed among Quebec nationalists at that time.
In 1990, Mulroney attempted to amend the Canadian constitution in order to obtain the support of the province of Quebec for it failed. The failure of this "Meech Lake Accord" led to Bouchard's resignation (some say firing) from the PC Party. With a group of dissident Members of Parliament (MPs) from the PC and Liberal parties, Bouchard formed the sovereignist Bloc Québécois. This made Bouchard immensely popular in Quebec.
The Parti Québécois campaigned for the Bloc in the 1993 federal election in order to prepare Quebec for sovereignty. In this election, the Bloc won most of the ridings in Quebec: 54 out of 75. Bouchard became the first separatist leader of the Opposition, and headed the Bloc caucus in Parliament from 1993 to 1996.
In December 1994, he lost a leg to necrotizing fasciitis ("flesh-eating disease"), becoming possibly the most famous victim of this rare disease.
In 1995, Bouchard signed, as Bloc leader, a tripartite agreement with Parti Québécois leader Jacques Parizeau and Action Démocratique leader Mario Dumont, which mapped the way to the referendum on independence. Faithful to René Lévesque's beliefs, he was instrumental in convincing Parizeau of including a plan of association with Canada in the referendum question. He campaigned with the other two leaders for the Yes side. Québec premier Jacques Parizeau first led the Yes campaign but, as support for sovereignty began to reach a plateau, the more popular Bouchard was given the official leadership.
A charismatic, efficient and poetic wordsmith, his popularity was increased by his departure from the government and by the rescue from disease.
The referendum gathered support of 49.42 per cent of the electorate, a feat often attributed to Bouchard personally, although it is disputed.
After the Yes side lost the 1995 referendum, Parizeau resigned as Québec premier. Bouchard resigned his seat in Parliament in 1996, and became the leader of the Parti Québécois and premier of Québec.
On the matter of sovereignty, while in office, he stated that proper circumstances, the conditions gagnantes (winning conditions), would have to be in place before holding another referendum. During his presence as leader of government, these conditions did not arise, and no referendum was held. A main concern of the Bouchard government, also considered part of the conditions gagnantes, was economic recovery through the achievement of "zero deficit". Long-term Keynesian policies resulting from the "Quebec model", developed by both PQ governments in the past and the previous Liberal government had left a substantial deficit in the provincial budget. The deficit was eliminated in 1999, one year earlier than anticipated, despite substantially increased public spending under the governance of his successor, Bernard Landry.
Nevertheless, economists forecast that the provincial finances will remain a major problem over the next decades, notably due to rising costs in health care, debt repayment, aging population, strong unionization of the workforce, and growing demands for increased services. Quebec's economy remains relatively weaker than that of the rest of Canada and of the US, though it has made a lot of progress in the last 50 years. (Quebec is Canada's poorest province as measured by Gross Interior Product per capita, after the Maritime Provinces.) Bouchard's financial restructuring is widely considered to be a first step to solving Quebec's financial problems.
Bouchard retired from politics in 2001, and was replaced as Québec premier by Bernard Landry. He stated that his failure to revive the sovereignist flame was a cause of his departure, something he took responsibility for in a poignant farewell speech. Others have speculated that the Michaud Affair, regarding allegedly anti-Semitic comments by Parti Québécois candidate Yves Michaud, was another factor favouring Bouchard's departure. Bouchard, considered more moderate on the sovereignty issue than traditional PQ premiers, also faced criticism by the hard liners of his own party for failing to engage the province in a third referendum on sovereignty in the course of his mandate, six years after the second one.
Since then, he has returned to practicing law by joining Davies, Ward, Phillips & Vineberg, a prominent Canada-wide firm in which he specializes in commercial and corporate law. He has served as a negotiator in high-profile commercial disputes, most recently for the Societe des alcools du Quebec (Quebec Liquor Board) during a strike that lasted six months. He is chairman of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and sits on the board of companies such as Transcontinental G.T.C. Limited, Saputo Inc., Groupe BMTC and Groupe conseil Dessau-Soprin. He recently separated from Audrey Best (born 1960), a California-born airline stewardess he married after meeting on an international flight. They have two children, Alexandre and Simon.
On October 19, 2005, Bouchard and eleven other Quebec personalities of different backgrounds and political aspirations published a manifesto entitled Pour un Québec Lucide (For a Clear-Eyed Vision of Québec). The manifesto warned Quebec's aging population about the challenges the future poses, demographically, economically and culturally. It made a certain impression on the Parti Québécois leadership race of 2005, getting mixed reactions. It was well received in other quarters, receiving praise on the editorial page of The Globe and Mail, for example.
His government implemented some controversial policies, including cuts to the province's health care spending in order to balance the chronically and critically deficitary provincial budget, and the amalgamation of Quebec's larger cities undertaken by his successor Bernard Landry. Also, some have criticized him for not pushing forward on the sovereignty issue during his time in office. These hard line purs et durs independentists were a problem for his leadership, notably due to the strongly decentralised structure of the Parti Québécois. More widely acclaimed aspects of his legacy include the creation of a low-cost, universal public daycare system, the birth of Emploi Québec, lowered unemployment rates, a resurgent Québec economy, and achieving a balanced budget. He is remembered for his sometimes "short fuse" when provoked, but also for his charms, eloquence and culture, and was appreciated as a gentleman by his political adversaries, and was considered favourably by many amongst Quebec's ethnic minorities and anglophone and Jewish communities.