Bouchard, Lucien

Bouchard, Lucien
▪ 1995

      In 1990 the Bloc Québécois was formed in Canada to promote sovereignty for the province of Quebec on the federal level. In the federal election of 1993, the Bloc Québécois surprised many Canadians by winning 54 ridings (districts) in Quebec to become the official opposition in the House of Commons. The party leader, Lucien Bouchard, became leader of the opposition.

      Bouchard began his career in politics as a member of the Progressive Conservative Party. Then in 1988 Prime Minister Brian Mulroney invited Bouchard to join his Cabinet. After being appointed secretary of state, Bouchard won a seat in the House of Commons from the Quebec riding of Lac-Saint-Jean. He was made minister of the environment in 1989. Bouchard's aim in entering politics was to help in salvaging the Meech Lake accord, a constitutional agreement that would have recognized Quebec as a distinct society. When the failure of the accord seemed inevitable in 1990, Bouchard resigned from the Cabinet and the Progressive Conservative caucus to become an independent member. He decided to remain in politics to work for the sovereignty of Quebec, and later in 1990 he was a founding member of the Bloc Québécois.

      Born in Saint-Coeur-de-Marie, Que., on Dec. 22, 1938, Bouchard received a degree in social sciences (1960) and a degree in law (1963) from Laval University. After being called to the bar in 1964, he practiced law in Chicoutimi, Que., until 1985. During those years he was called upon several times to work for the provincial government. From 1970 to 1976 he was chairman of the Quebec Educational Arbitration Board, which had been set up to ensure uniform working conditions in the provincial education sector. He served as chief counsel for the Cliche Commission of Inquiry into the Construction Industry (1974-75), which examined the problems of the James Bay hydroelectric project. Bouchard was coauthor of the Martin-Bouchard Report (1977-78) on reforming negotiation procedures for public sector employees. From 1978 to 1981 he coordinated Quebec's negotiations with its employees.

      In 1985 Bouchard became Canadian ambassador to France. In that role he promoted the interests of Canada and of Quebec. He helped organize the first Francophone summit in Paris (1986) and was chairman of the preparation committee for the second Francophone summit in Quebec City (1987).

      Late in 1994 Bouchard was stricken with necrotizing myositis, a virulent bacterial infection. After several operations, including the amputation of a leg, he was reported to be recovering and was expected to continue as leader of the opposition. (DIANE LOIS WAY)

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Universalium. 2010.

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