Robert Bourassa, Image:Robert Bourassa portrait.jpg
, Talk:Robert Bourassa
, Robert-Bourassa generating station
, Meech Lake Accord
, Talk:Robert Bourassa's speech on the end of the Meech Lake Accord
– October 2
) was a politician in Quebec
. He served as Liberal Premier of Quebec
in two different mandates, first from May 12
to November 25
, and then from December 12
to January 11
Robert Bourassa was born in Montreal
in a working class family to Aubert Bourassa, a port authority worker, and Adrienne Courville.
[Fr cite web | title=Robert BOURASSA | work=Assemblée Nationale Fr | url=http://www.assnat.qc.ca/FRA/membres/notices/b/bourr.htm | ]
, Robert Bourassa graduated from the Université de Montréal
law school in 1956 and was admitted to the Barreau du Québec
the following year. On August 23
, he married Andrée Simard
. Later, he studied at the University of Oxford
and also obtained a degree in political economy
at Harvard University
in 1959-60. On his return to Quebec, he was employed at the National Revenue Department as a fiscal adviser. He also worked as a professor in public finances at Université de Montréal
and Laval University
He was first elected as an MLA in 1966, then went on to lead the Liberal Party of Quebec
on January 17
. He positioned himself as a young, competent, administrator. He chose "100 000 jobs" as his slogan, which emphasized that jobs creation would be his priority. Bourassa felt the extensive hydro-electric resources of Quebec were the most effective means of completing the modernization of Quebec and sustaining job creation. His leadership in the James Bay Project (French: projet de la Baie James
), which refers to the construction of a series of hydroelectric power stations in northern Quebec, would later become his most recognized feat. He successfully led his party into government in the 1970 election
, defeating the conservative Union Nationale
[Downey, Donn. Former premier fought for Quebec, A14. The Globe & Mail, October 3, 1996.]
and becoming the youngest Premier of Quebec.
One of his first crises as Premier of Quebec happened during the October Crisis
in which his labour minister Pierre Laporte
was kidnapped and murdered. It was Pierre Trudeau
who pushed the Premier of Quebec, Bourassa, to declare a state of , which resulted in the Canadian army patrolling the streets of major cities in Quebec and in the national capital, Ottawa
. After Laporte's kidnapping, Bourassa barricaded himself and his cabinet behind heavy layers of security.
Bourassa and Trudeau often clashed over issues of federal-provincial relations and Quebec nationalism
with Trudeau opposing what he saw as concessions to sovereignism
. Trudeau also looked down on Bourassa personally, once referring to him as a mangeur d'hot dog
(a hot dog eater), though Trudeau later admitted in his TV biography that the comment was a friendly poke at Bourassa's habit of bringing this choice of food to meetings, saying that the original sentence was more like "Bourassa brought his hot dogs, we are ready to talk."
During his time in power, Bourassa implemented policies aimed at protecting the status of the French language in Quebec. In 1974
, he introduced Bill 22
, the first legislation designed to strengthen the position of French within Quebec. However, this legislation was soon superseded by the Charter of the French Language
also known as Bill 101, introduced by the Parti Québécois government that replaced him in 1976
. Nonetheless, Bill 22 perhaps had a greater impact than Bill 101. By making French the official language of Quebec, that meant that Quebec was no longer institutionally bilingual (English and French). Many businesses and professionals were unable to operate under such requirements and an estimated 300,000 emigrated to neighbouring Ontario, enabling Toronto
to overtake Montreal
as the business capital of Canada. Bill 22 angered Anglophones while not going far enough for many Francophones; Bourassa was vilified by both groups and lost the 1976 election in a landslide.
Bourassa lost the 1976 Quebec provincial election
to René Lévesque
, leader of the separatist Parti Québécois
. When Bourassa lost his own seat in the National Assembly, he described himself as "having his head chopped off, with people still looking for it." Bourassa remained in political exile until 1983
when he returned to provincial politics. He resigned as Liberal Party leader, and accepted teaching positions in Europe and the United States. He subsequently returned to politics as Liberal leader on October 15
, and regained the office of premier in the 1985 election
In his second term, he invoked the notwithstanding clause
of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
to override a Supreme Court
ruling that declared parts of the Charter of the French Language unconstitutional, causing some English-speaking ministers in his government to resign. A few years later, however, he introduced modifications to the language charter. These compromises reduced the controversy over language that had been a dominant feature of Quebec politics over the previous decades. The majority of Quebecers reached a consensus on accepting the new status quo.
Bourassa also pushed for Quebec to be acknowledged in the Canadian constitution as a "distinct society", promising Quebecers that their grievances could be resolved within Canada with a new constitutional deal. Early in his first time in office, he participated in an early attempt at constitutional reform, the Victoria Charter
, which quickly unravelled when Bourassa backed away from the proposed deal after it was strongly criticized by Quebec opinion leaders for not protecting Quebec's traditional veto power on constitutional amendments. In his second time in office, he worked closely with federal Prime Minister Brian Mulroney
and received many concessions from the federal government, culminating in the Meech Lake Accord
and the Charlottetown Accord
. When both of these accords failed to be ratified, the constitutional reform efforts collapsed, reviving the separatist movement.
Bourassa initiated the James Bay hydroelectric project
in 1971 that led to the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement
of 1975 with the Cree
inhabitants of the region. The Bourassa government also played a major role in rescuing the 1976 Olympic Games
from the huge cost overruns and construction delays incurred by the mismanagement of the project by mayor Drapeau
's administration. However, Bourassa was accused of simply throwing money to bail out the Montreal Olympics without taking the much-needed steps of providing additional oversight, and his government became embroiled in corruption scandals that led to his 1976
Bourassa retired from politics in 1994
in poor health and having lost the popularity that had returned him to the premier's office. He was replaced as Liberal leader and premier by Daniel Johnson, Jr.
, who lost an election to the separatist Parti Québécois after only nine months.
, he died in Montreal
of skin cancer
at the age of 63, and was interred at the Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges
in Montreal, Quebec.
*No matter what anyone says and no matter what anyone does, Quebec is, today and forever, a distinct society, free and capable of assuming its destiny and development. (listen
) (http://archives.radio-canada.ca/IDCC-0-17-1176-6446/politique_economie/accord_meech/ watch excerpts of original speech
) (http://archives.cbc.ca/IDC-1-73-1180-6498/politics_economy/meech_lake/clip10 watch English dubbing
) Speech given on June 22, 1990, at the National Assembly, in the wake of the Meech Lake Accord's demise
* A statue and a memorial of Bourassa was unveiled in front of the National Assembly
on October 19, 2006. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2006/10/19/parcave-renamedafterbourassa.html
* The city of Quebec intends to ask the government about renaming highway Du Vallon, a major road in Quebec city, after Bourassa. http://www.canoe.com/infos/quebeccanada/archives/2006/09/20060929-081111.html
Parc Avenue Controversy
* On November 28 the Montreal city council voted in favour (40-22) of renaming Parc Avenue after Bourassa, as announced on October 18, 2006 by Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay
* If, as expected, Quebec's Toponymy
Commission approves the name change, all of Parc Avenue and its continuation, Bleury down to Viger will be renamed Avenue Robert Bourassa. This will cause the newly named street to cross René Lévesque
Boulevard, named after a long time political rival to Bourassa.
* This decision by the City of Montreal without any consultation with the people of the city has caused an uproar and a lot of controversy, especially as Parc is itself an historical street name, associated with the city's beloved Mount Royal
* There was an online petition against this renaming. http://causes.ca/duparc The petition is now closed
* The STM
metro station (and AMT
commuter rail station) will remain "Parc" due to a moratorium on renaming metro stations.
[Fr cite web | title=Holà aux changements de nom des stations de métro | url=http://www.cyberpresse.ca/article/20061026/CPACTUALITES/610260776/5155/CPACTUALITES | ]
*Robert Bourassa's speech on the end of the Meech Lake Accord
*Politics of Quebec
*List of Quebec Premiers
*Quebec general elections
*Timeline of Quebec history
*Prime Minister nicknaming in Quebec
*Les Boubou Macoutes
* http://www.assnat.qc.ca/fra/membres/notices/b/bourr.htm National Assembly biography
* http://books.google.com/books?ie=UTF-8&hl=fr&id=Tu2RuQ_HQxcC&pg=PP7&lpg=PP7&dq=the+trickster&prev=http://books.google.com/books%3Fq%3Dthe%2Btrickster%26hl%3Dfr&sig=GCMrEaWWVUvdkOm4ALVQpooYghc The Trickster: Robert Bourassa and Quebeckers 1990-1992
JF Lisée book on Bourassa available online on Google Print.
*http://archives.cbc.ca/IDD-1-74-915/people/robert_bourassa/ CBC Digital Archives: Robert Bourassa: Political Survivor
succession box|title=Premier of Quebec
succession box|title=Premier of Quebec
after=Daniel Johnson, Jr
succession box|title=Leader of the Quebec Liberal Party
after=Gérard D. Lévesque
succession box|title=Leader of the Quebec Liberal Party
before=Gérard D. Lévesque
after=Daniel Johnson, Jr.
end Bourassa, RobertBourassa, RobertBourassa, RobertBourassa, RobertBourassa, RobertBourassa, RobertBourassa, RobertBourassa, RobertBourassa, RobertBourassa, Robertfr:Robert Bourassapl:Robert Bourassa