Jacques Parizeau

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Jacques_Parizeau,_Portrait.jpg
Portrait of Jacques Parizeau.

Jacques Parizeau (born August 9, 1930) is an economist and noted Quebec sovereigntist who served as Premier of the Canadian province of Quebec from September 26, 1994 to January 28, 1996).

Contents

Biography

Parizeau graduated with a doctorate from the London School of Economics in London. A believer in John Maynard Keynes's theory of economic interventionnism, 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-Quebec (a hydro-electric utility), the nationalization of asbestos mines, and the creation of 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 is generally opposed by the English-speaking minority. Parizeau bypassed Bill 101 by having his children educated in private schools. (disputed)

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 the 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 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 and conservative Lucien Bouchard, the popular leader of the federal Bloc Québécois party. Parizeau agreed, and as the campaign progressed, lost his leadership role to Bouchard.

On the night of the 1995 referendum, Quebec came within only a few thousands of votes of separation, but the Yes side still lost. In his concession speech, he 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 (who represent 80% of all Quebecers) voted Yes. However, the sovereigntist side accepted the results of the vote which they had initiated.

Parizeau was widely criticized for the remarks, which he later characterized as unfortunate and as meriting the disapproval they received. Because of the defeat and these remarks, 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. As against which, 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. (This interview had previously been held under "embargo", which is to say that the station agreed not to broadcast it until the referendum was over.)

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.

Quotes

  • Well, in a case like this, what do we do? We spit in our hands and we start over! (listen)
    • "Bon, ben, dans un cas comme ça, qu'est-ce qu'on fait? On se crache dans les mains et on recommence!"
    • Concession speech.
  • "It is true, it is true that we were beaten, but in the end, by what? By money and ethnic votes, essentially."
    • C'est vrai, c'est vrai qu'on a été battus, au fond, par quoi? Par l'argent puis des votes ethniques, essentiellement."

(The infamous 1995 post-referendum declaration)

  • Question of the 1995 referendum on independence. (read) (listen)

Elections as party leader

He lost the 1989 election, and won the 1994 election. He announced his resignation the day after the "Yes" side in the 1995 Quebec referendum was defeated.

See also

External links


Preceded by:
Daniel Johnson, Jr
Premier of Quebec
1994-1996
Succeeded by:
Lucien Bouchard
Preceded by:
Pierre-Marc Johnson
Leader of the Parti Quebecois
1987-1996
Succeeded by:
Lucien Bouchard
Preceded by:
Guy Chevrette
Leader of the Opposition in Quebec
1989-1994
Succeeded by:
Daniel Johnson, Jr.

Template:End boxfr:Jacques Parizeau

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