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André Boisclair

André Boisclair

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André Boisclair is a politician in Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. He was the leader of the Parti Québécois
Parti Québécois
The Parti Québécois is a centre-left political party that advocates national sovereignty for the province of Quebec and secession from Canada. The Party traditionally has support from the labour movement. Unlike many other social-democratic parties, its ties with the labour movement are informal...

, a social democratic and separatist party in Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

.

Between January 1996 and March 2003, Boisclair served as Citizenship and Immigration Minister and Social Solidarity Minister under former Premier of Quebec
Premier of Quebec
The Premier of Quebec is the first minister of the Canadian province of Quebec. The Premier is the province's head of government and his title is Premier and President of the Executive Council....

 Lucien Bouchard
Lucien Bouchard
Lucien Bouchard, is a Canadian lawyer, diplomat, politician and former Minister of the Environment of the Canadian Federal Government. He was the Leader of Opposition in the Canadian House of Commons from 1993 to 1996, and the 27th Premier of Quebec from January 29, 1996 to March 8, 2001...

 and as Environment Minister under former Premier Bernard Landry
Bernard Landry
Bernard Landry, is a Quebec lawyer, teacher, politician, who served as the 28th Premier of Quebec , leader of the Opposition and leader of the Parti Québécois .-Personal:...

. He won the Parti Québécois leadership election
Parti Québécois leadership election, 2005
The Parti Québécois leadership election of 2005 was held from November 13 to November 15, 2005 to elect the new leader of the Parti Québécois, the main sovereigntist and social democratic political party in Quebec, Canada....

 on November 15, 2005.

Boisclair announced he was stepping down as leader of the PQ on May 8, 2007. François Gendron
François Gendron
François Gendron is a politician and teacher in Quebec, Canada. He is the current Member of National Assembly of Quebec for the riding of Abitibi-Ouest. He represents the Parti Québécois since 1976....

 was named interim leader.

Early life


Boisclair grew up in the affluent Francophone Montreal neighbourhood of Outremont. While attending Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf
Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf
Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf is a private French-language educational institution offering secondary school and CEGEP college-level instruction in Montreal, Quebec. It is a co-ed establishment for students in their final year of secondary school and in college. It is boys-only in the first four years...

, a private CEGEP
Cégep
CEGEP is an acronym for , which is literally translated as "College of General and Vocational Education" but commonly called "General and Vocational College" in circles not influenced by Quebec English. It refers to the public post-secondary education collegiate institutions exclusive to the...

, he became the president of the Federation of Quebec College Students (university preparatory and technical trade schools known as CEGEP
Cégep
CEGEP is an acronym for , which is literally translated as "College of General and Vocational Education" but commonly called "General and Vocational College" in circles not influenced by Quebec English. It refers to the public post-secondary education collegiate institutions exclusive to the...

 in Quebec.) After graduation he attended Université de Montréal
Université de Montréal
The Université de Montréal is a public francophone research university in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It comprises thirteen faculties, more than sixty departments and two affiliated schools: the École Polytechnique and HEC Montréal...

, but dropped out after two years. As a result, Boisclair does not possess an undergraduate degree.

Political scene 1989 - 2003


He joined the Parti Québécois in 1984, and in the 1989 general election
Quebec general election, 1989
The Quebec general election of 1989 was held on September 25, 1989, to elect members of the National Assembly of the Province of Quebec, Canada...

 he was elected to represent the Gouin riding as a PQ candidate. At 23 years old, he became the youngest member ever elected to the Quebec National Assembly
National Assembly of Quebec
The National Assembly of Quebec is the legislative body of the Province of Quebec. The Lieutenant Governor and the National Assembly compose the Parliament of Quebec, which operates in a fashion similar to those of other British-style parliamentary systems.The National Assembly was formerly the...

, a record he held until Simon-Pierre Diamond
Simon-Pierre Diamond
Simon-Pierre Diamond is a politician in Quebec. He represented the Marguerite-D'Youville district in the National Assembly of Quebec from 2007 to 2008 as a member of the Action démocratique du Québec....

 was elected in 2007. He also quickly garnered a reputation as a party animal in Quebec City's night-life scene.

He served as a cabinet
Cabinet (government)
A Cabinet is a body of high ranking government officials, typically representing the executive branch. It can also sometimes be referred to as the Council of Ministers, an Executive Council, or an Executive Committee.- Overview :...

 minister from 1998 to 2003, under Parti Québécois (PQ) Premiers Lucien Bouchard and Bernard Landry, holding a variety of high profile portfolios. During his time in office, Boisclair and his chief of staff, Luc Doray, became the center of a drug and embezzlement scandal. After a routine audit, officials discovered that Doray submitted over $30,000 in false expense reports and authorities later discovered that Doray had used the money to feed his cocaine
Cocaine
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from "coca" in addition to the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic...

 habit.

Doray plead guilty to defrauding the government and during court testimony it was learned that Boisclair authorized some of the expenses. The ensuing investigation cleared Boisclair of any wrongdoing - he was never accused nor charged with any crime. However, in September of 2005, Boisclair admitted to personally using cocaine between 1996 and 2003 while serving as a member of the Quebec legislature.

Boisclair continued to serve as a Member of the National Assembly until he resigned in August 2004 to attend the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

. At the time of his resignation, Boisclair held the position of opposition parliamentary (house) leader. Boisclair completed the Master's in Public Administration program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government - a program that does not require students to hold a previous university degree. While at Harvard, Boisclair attended lectures by Michael Ignatieff
Michael Ignatieff
Michael Grant Ignatieff is a Canadian author, academic and former politician. He was the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and Leader of the Official Opposition from 2008 until 2011...

 and kept a blog
Blog
A blog is a type of website or part of a website supposed to be updated with new content from time to time. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in...

 recording his experience.

Party leadership


After Bernard Landry resigned in June 2005, Boisclair entered the race to succeed Landry as the PQ's leader. Elected as the sixth leader of the Parti Québécois on November 15, 2005, Boisclair earned 53.8% of the party membership vote as compared to his closest rival, Pauline Marois
Pauline Marois
Pauline Marois is the current leader of the Parti Québécois in the province of Quebec, since June 27, 2007 and current Leader of the Official Opposition of the National Assembly of Quebec, representing the riding of Charlevoix...

, who garnered 30.6%. For the first time, the PQ allowed telephone voting, resulting in the participation of over 76% of the party membership. Polls taken at the time of his leadership victory in November 2005 suggested that Boisclair's Parti Québécois would win a landslide victory over the incumbent Liberal Party of Jean Charest
Jean Charest
John James "Jean" Charest, PC, MNA is a Canadian politician who has been the 29th Premier of Quebec since 2003. He was leader of the federal Progressive Conservative Party of Canada from 1993 to 1998 and has been leader of the Quebec Liberal Party since 1998....

.

Boisclair was the first openly gay
Coming out
Coming out is a figure of speech for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people's disclosure of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity....

 politician in Canada to win the leadership of a party with legislative representation. (Previous openly gay Canadian political party leaders included Chris Lea
Chris Lea
Chris Lea is a designer, politician and political activist in Canada. He was the leader of the Green Party of Canada from 1990 to 1996. He is, to date, the party's longest-serving leader. Lea is notable for being the first openly gay political party leader in Canadian history.Lea lives in Toronto...

 of the Green Party of Canada
Green Party of Canada
The Green Party of Canada is a Canadian federal political party founded in 1983 with 10,000–12,000 registered members as of October 2008. The Greens advance a broad multi-issue political platform that reflects its core values of ecological wisdom, social justice, grassroots democracy and...

 and Allison Brewer
Allison Brewer
Allison Brewer is a Canadian social activist and politician, and the former leader of the New Brunswick New Democratic Party. She has been particularly active in areas of lesbian and gay rights and access to abortion.-Biography:...

 of the New Brunswick New Democratic Party
New Brunswick New Democratic Party
The New Brunswick New Democratic Party is a social-democratic provincial political party in New Brunswick, Canada linked with the federal New Democratic Party .-Origins and early history:...

.)

After his election as party leader, Boisclair delivered a speech promising a sovereignty referendum within two years of a PQ victory in the next Quebec general election. During a joint press conference with Bloc Québécois
Bloc Québécois
The Bloc Québécois is a federal political party in Canada devoted to the protection of Quebec's interests in the House of Commons of Canada, and the promotion of Quebec sovereignty. The Bloc was originally a party made of Quebec nationalists who defected from the federal Progressive Conservative...

 leader Gilles Duceppe
Gilles Duceppe
Gilles Duceppe is a Canadian politician, and proponent of the Québec sovereignty movement. He was a Member of Parliament in the Canadian House of Commons for over 20 years and was the leader of the sovereigntist Bloc Québécois for almost 15 years. He is the son of a well-known Quebec actor, Jean...

 in Montreal on November 20, 2005, Boisclair decried Canada's Clarity Act
Clarity Act
The Clarity Act is legislation passed by the Parliament of Canada that established the conditions under which the Government of Canada would enter into negotiations that might lead to secession following such a vote by one of the provinces. The Clarity Bill was tabled for first reading in the...

 as unacceptable. He stated that if elected Premier, he would ignore the ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada
Supreme Court of Canada
The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court of Canada and is the final court of appeals in the Canadian justice system. The court grants permission to between 40 and 75 litigants each year to appeal decisions rendered by provincial, territorial and federal appellate courts, and its decisions...

 on referendum question clarity.

Upon taking the reins of the PQ, Boisclair's actions quickly created political controversy within his own party. After a questionable appearance in a comedy sketch featuring a homosexual depiction of Stephen Harper
Stephen Harper
Stephen Joseph Harper is the 22nd and current Prime Minister of Canada and leader of the Conservative Party. Harper became prime minister when his party formed a minority government after the 2006 federal election...

 and George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

, and an attempt to distance the PQ from its traditional union base, a push to oust Boisclair developed. Purportedly led by Boisclair's predecessor, Bernard Landry (which he denies), the plan failed and no real threat to Boisclair's leadership emerged. Pundits speculated that the proximity of the Quebec general election contributed to the putsch's failure.

On August 14, 2006, Boisclair was elected to the provincial legislative assembly in a by-election for the Montreal-area riding of Pointe-aux-Trembles
Pointe-aux-Trembles (electoral district)
Pointe-aux-Trembles is a provincial electoral district in Quebec, Canada that elects members to the National Assembly of Quebec. The district is located at the north-east point of the Island of Montreal and includes the communities of Pointe-aux-Trembles and Montreal East. In the 1995 Quebec...

. He was re-elected in the general election of March 26, 2007.

2007 election


In February 2007, Boisclair promised a dream team of high profile candidates for the anticipated 2007 general election
Quebec general election, 2007
The Quebec general election of 2007 was held in the Canadian province of Quebec on March 26, 2007 to elect members of the 38th National Assembly of Quebec. The Quebec Liberal Party led by Jean Charest managed to win a plurality of seats, but were reduced to a minority government, Quebec's first in...

. Comparing his slate to the l'équipe du tonnerre (the thunder team) of former premier and Quiet revolution
Quiet Revolution
The Quiet Revolution was the 1960s period of intense change in Quebec, Canada, characterized by the rapid and effective secularization of society, the creation of a welfare state and a re-alignment of politics into federalist and separatist factions...

 architect Jean Lesage
Jean Lesage
Jean Lesage, PC, CC, CD was a lawyer and politician in Quebec, Canada. He served as the 19th Premier of Quebec from 22 June 1960, to 16 August 1966...

, Boiscair announced that actor Pierre Curzi
Pierre Curzi
Pierre Curzi is an actor, screenwriter and politician in Quebec, Canada. He is the Member of the National Assembly of Quebec for the riding of Borduas in the Montérégie region south of Montreal...

, former cabinet member Linda Goupil, TV journalist Bernard Drainville
Bernard Drainville
Bernard Drainville is a Quebec politician, television host and journalist. He is the current Member of National Assembly of Quebec for the riding of Marie-Victorin in Longueuil and represents the Parti Québécois....

, academic Guy Lachapelle, union leader Marc Laviolette, and former Bloc Québécois MPs Richard Marceau
Richard Marceau
Richard Marceau is a Canadian politician.A lawyer in both Québec and Ontario, Marceau was first elected to the Canadian House of Commons in the Canadian federal election, 1997 for the Bloc Québécois in the riding of Charlesbourg at the age of 26...

 and Yvan Loubier
Yvan Loubier
Yvan Loubier is a Canadian politician and one of the founders of the Bloc Québécois. He was a Bloc Québécois member of the Canadian House of Commons representing the district of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, from the since he was first elected in the 1993 election, until his resignation on February 21,...

 composed this team. On February 21, 2007 the Lieutenant-Governor of Quebec, Lise Thibault
Lise Thibault
Lise Thibault is a Canadian civil servant who was appointed the 27th Lieutenant Governor of Quebec on January 30, 1997. As a former Vice-Regal representative of Elizabeth II, as Queen in Right of Quebec, she is styled The Honourable for life.-Early life:Born in Saint-Roch-de-l'Achigan, Quebec,...

, dissolved parliament and called a general election for March 26, 2007.

Boisclair launched his campaign using the slogan "Reconstruisons notre Québec" (Let's rebuild our Quebec). At the beginning of the campaign, Boisclair's Parti Québécois stood five percentage points behind the Quebec Liberals.

Boisclair stated throughout his campaign that education would remain a key priority in the PQ's election strategy and that he would organize a new referendum on sovereignty as soon as possible. He also supported new measures targeting home ownership for young families.

During the election campaign, controversy arose when radio talk show host Louis Champagne
Louis Champagne
Louis Champagne is a Canadian talk radio personality, who is hosts a morning daily program on CKGS-FM in La Baie, Quebec. He was, longtime host an other daily program on CKRS-FM until November 2008...

 made homophobic
Homophobia
Homophobia is a term used to refer to a range of negative attitudes and feelings towards lesbian, gay and in some cases bisexual, transgender people and behavior, although these are usually covered under other terms such as biphobia and transphobia. Definitions refer to irrational fear, with the...

 remarks while interviewing Parti Québécois candidate Alexandre Cloutier
Alexandre Cloutier
Alexandre Cloutier is a Quebec politician and lawyer. He is the current Member of National Assembly of Quebec for the riding of Lac-Saint-Jean in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region...

, asking him if the fact that his party was led by a gay man — and was running an openly gay candidate, Sylvain Gaudreault
Sylvain Gaudreault
Sylvain Gaudreault is a Quebec politician and teacher. He is the current Member of National Assembly of Quebec for the riding of Jonquière in the city of Saguenay. He represents the Parti Québécois....

, in the neighbouring riding to Cloutier's — meant that voters would believe the Parti Québécois was "a club of fags". Days later, the radio station's corporate owner, the Corus Group
Corus Group
Tata Steel Europe is a multinational steel-making company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the second-largest steel-maker in Europe and is a subsidiary of Tata Steel of India, one of the ten largest steel producers in the world.Corus Group was formed through the merger of Koninklijke...

, suspended Champagne.

Most observers ruled the 2007 leaders' debate a draw. Critics felt that Boisclair appeared the most aggressive, repeatedly asking the Action démocratique du Québec
Action démocratique du Québec
The Action démocratique du Québec, commonly referred to as the ADQ is a centre-right political party in Quebec, Canada. On the sovereignty question, it defines itself as autonomist, and has support from both soft nationalists and federalists....

's (ADQ) Mario Dumont
Mario Dumont
Mario Dumont is a television personality and former politician in the province of Quebec. He was a Member of the National Assembly of Quebec , and the leader of the Action démocratique du Québec , from 1994 to 2009...

 to state the financial model of his political platform.

Election night produced a major disappointment for the Parti Québécois. The party polled its smallest share of the popular vote since 1973 and the PQ came third in seat numbers in the National Assembly - losing Official Opposition status. The 2007 election left Quebec with its first minority government since 1878. Although Boisclair's future as the leader of Parti Québécois appeared uncertain, he claimed on the day after the election that he had no plans of stepping down (however, he resigned six weeks later).

Apart from the Champagne incident, the election campaign was not marked by any other open expressions of homophobia
Homophobia
Homophobia is a term used to refer to a range of negative attitudes and feelings towards lesbian, gay and in some cases bisexual, transgender people and behavior, although these are usually covered under other terms such as biphobia and transphobia. Definitions refer to irrational fear, with the...

. However, at least one prominent political journalist in Quebec, The Gazette
The Gazette (Montreal)
The Gazette, often called the Montreal Gazette to avoid ambiguity, is the only English-language daily newspaper published in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, with three other daily English newspapers all having shut down at different times during the second half of the 20th century.-History:In 1778,...

s Don MacPherson, has asserted that some other criticism of Boisclair — particularly a persistent notion among some voters that he was too cosmopolitan and "Montréalais
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

" — may in fact have been code for lingering voter discomfort with the idea of electing an openly gay premier.

Resignation as PQ Leader


André Boisclair announced his resignation as Parti Québécois leader on May 8, 2007, the same day Quebec's National Assembly was resuming sitting after the 2007 general election. The announcement came as a shock to many Parti Québécois caucus members, some of whom expressed "sadness" at the decision.

Boisclair's leadership was questioned immediately after the election and petitions for a motion of confidence within the party came far and wide from regional PQ presidents and major sovereigntist groups.

Boisclair's resignation followed a dispute with Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc Québécois, the sovereigntist party on the federal scene. In an interview with Radio-Canada, Boisclair had confirmed rumours that Duceppe had been scheming for his post. Duceppe denied these rumours but many political observers still believed Boisclair had gone too far in this denunciation.

Boisclair remained the MNA for Pointe-aux-Trembles, but on October 15, 2007, he announced he was resigning from his seat and quitting politics on November 15, 2007. He also charged former leader Bernard Landry for undermining his support as party head by referring to the PQ's loss of public support under Boisclair's reign, and for hinting he wanted to return to the party's leadership himself.

See also

  • Parti Québécois leadership election, 2005
    Parti Québécois leadership election, 2005
    The Parti Québécois leadership election of 2005 was held from November 13 to November 15, 2005 to elect the new leader of the Parti Québécois, the main sovereigntist and social democratic political party in Quebec, Canada....

  • Quebec sovereignty movement
    Quebec sovereignty movement
    The Quebec sovereignty movement refers to both the political movement and the ideology of values, concepts and ideas that promote the secession of the province of Quebec from the rest of Canada...

  • Politics of Quebec
    Politics of Quebec
    The politics of Quebec are centred on a provincial government resembling that of the other Canadian provinces, namely a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. The capital of the province is Quebec City, where the Lieutenant Governor, Premier, the legislature, and cabinet reside.The...

  • List of leaders of the Official Opposition (Quebec)
  • List of third party leaders of Quebec
  • History of Quebec
    History of Quebec
    Quebec has played a special role in Canadian history; it is the site where French settlers founded the colony of Canada in the 17th and 18th centuries.-Paleoindian Era :...


Electoral record (partial)


External links