André Boisclair

André Boisclair

Infobox Politician | name= André Boisclair

caption= André Boisclair and former Minister Louise Beaudoin at an event in Chambly.
term_start=August 14, 2006
term_end=November 15, 2007
predecessor= Nicole Léger
birth_date= birth date and age |1966|04|14
birth_place= Montreal, Quebec
successor= Nicole Leger
profession= Politician
party= Parti Québécois
party colour= Parti Québécois
riding= Gouin
riding2 =Pointe-Aux-Trembles
term_start2= September 25, 1989
term_end2= August 17, 2004
predecessor2= Jacques Rochefort
successor2= Nicolas Girard
spouse= |

André Boisclair (born April 14, 1966 in Montreal, Quebec) is a politician in Quebec, Canada. He was the leader of the Parti Québécois, a social democratic and sovereigntist party in Quebec.

Between January 1996 and March 2003, Boisclair served as Citizenship and Immigration Minister and Social Solidarity Minister under former Premier of Quebec Lucien Bouchard and as Environment Minister under former Premier Bernard Landry. He won the Parti Québécois leadership election on November 15, 2005.

Boisclair announced he was stepping down as leader of the PQ on May 8, 2007.cite news | url= | title=Boisclair quitting | accessdate=2007-05-08 | date=2007-05-08] François Gendron was named interim leader.

Early life

Boisclair grew up in the affluent Francophone Montreal neighbourhood of Outremont. While attending Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, a private secondary school, he became the president of the Federation of Quebec College Students (university preparatory and technical trade schools known as CEGEP in Quebec.) After graduation he attended Université de 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 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, a record he held until Simon-Pierre Diamond was elected in 2007. He also quickly garnered a reputation as a party animal in Quebec City's night-life scene. [cite news|title=André Boisclair: the PQ's young star|publisher=CBC News|url=|accessdate=2007-05-08|date=2005-11-16]

He served as a cabinet minister from 1998 to 2003, under 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 habit.cite news|title=Boisclair's skeletons rattle bitter PQ race|publisher=The Globe and Mail|url=|accessdate=2007-05-08|date=2005-11-09]

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 served 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. 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 and kept a blog 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, 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.

After his election as party leader, Boisclair delivered a speech promising a sovereignty referendum within 2 years of a PQ victory in the next Quebec general election. During a joint press conference with Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe in Montreal on November 20, 2005, Boisclair decried Canada's Clarity Act as unacceptable. He stated that if elected Premier, he would ignore the ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada 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 and George W. Bush, and an attempt to distance the PQ from its traditional union base, a putsch 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.

Boisclair was the first openly gay politician in Canada to win the leadership of a party with legislative representation. (Previous openly gay Canadian political party leaders included Chris Lea of the Green Party of Canada and Allison Brewer of the New Brunswick New Democratic Party.)

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. 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. Comparing his slate to the "l'équipe du tonnerre" (the thunder team) of former premier and Quiet revolution architect Jean Lesage, Boiscair announced that actor Pierre Curzi, former cabinet member Linda Goupil, TV journalist Bernard Drainville, academic Guy Lachapelle, union leader Marc Laviolette, and former Bloc Québécois MPs Richard Marceau and Yvan Loubier composed this team. On February 21, 2007 the Lieutenant-Governor of Quebec, Lise Thibault, 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.

During the election campaign, Boisclair became the victim of several homophobic remarks while supporting PQ candidate, Sylvain Gaudreault, in the Jonquière riding. The Quebec social-media scene immediately condemned Louis Champagne, the radio shock-jock who led the charge against Boisclair. Days later, the radio station's corporate owner, the Corus Group, suspended Champagne.

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.

Most observers ruled the 2007 leader debate a draw. Critics felt that Boisclair appeared the most aggressive, repeatedly asking the Action démocratique du Québec's (ADQ) Mario Dumont 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).

"Les yeux bridés" controversy

In a March 14, 2007 campaign speech to students in Trois-Rivières, Boisclair commented that when he was a student at Harvard, he observed that "about one-third of the students doing their Bachelor's degrees had slanted eyes" (in French: "les yeux bridés"), while describing how citizens of Asian countries are "not just sweatshop workers" but are globally competitive and may even be highly educated. (Only 13% of Harvard students are of Asian descent, many of whom are US citizens.] ) Despite complaints from the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations and the Chinese Canadian National Council, Boisclair refused to apologize for the comments, saying "Maybe there's a nuance between the word in French and the word in English, but no way I will excuse myself."cite news | url= | title='Slanting eyes' comment lost in translation' | accessdate=2007-03-16 | last=Authier | first=Philip | date=2007-03-16] cite news | url= | title="No way' will Boisclair apologize for remarks' | accessdate=2007-03-16 | last=Peritz | first=Ingrid | date=2007-03-16]

While much of the French-language media presented this minor controversy as a matter only of concern to the English-language press,cite news | url= | title=André Boisclair et les «yeux bridés» | accessdate=2007-03-21 | date=2007-03-15] May Chiu, who in 2006 became the Bloc Québécois' first Chinese-Québécoise candidate and a member of PQ candidate Zhao Xin Wu's 2007 campaign team, stated that "calling people slanted eyes has been an insult to Asians for the longest time, and is still used as an insult."cite news | url= | title=PQ insider slams Boisclair for 'slanting eyes' comment | accessdate=2007-03-16 | date=2007-03-16] However, his comments were defended by other Québécois, including some of Asian origin.cite news | url= | title=Andre Boisclair's "slanting eyes" comment heard differently by French ears | accessdate=2007-03-21 | date=2007-03-18 | first=Les | last=Perreaux ] cite news | title=Don't faint, but i'm siding with a separatist | url= | accessdate=2007-03-21 | date=2007-03-20 | first=Brigitte | last=Pellerin ] Although the literal translation of his phrase is considered a racial slur in English, the English-language media have generally not pointed out that it isn't considered an insult by most French speakers. The Petit Robert, the best known French dictionary, defines "yeux bridés" as "Eyes characteristic of many Asians" without any mention of negative or racist connotations. Media in both languages did not generally address separate concerns arising from any implication by Boisclair that Asian appearance necessarily implies Asian citizenship, rather than American or Canadian, or that Asian appearance is associated with sweat-shop work.

Resignation as PQ Leader

André Boisclair announced his resignation as Parti Québécois leader on May 8, 2007, the same day Québec'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. [cite news|title=Boisclair quits as leader of Parti Québécois|publisher=CBC News|url=|accessdate=2007-05-08|date=2007-05-08]

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. [cite news|title=Clouds hang over Boisclair as legislature prepares to sit|publisher=CBC News|url=|accessdate=2007-05-08|date=2007-05-08]

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 leadership himself. [cite news|title=Boisclair leaving politics|publisher=The Montreal Gazette | url=|accessdate=2007-10-15|date=2007-10-15]

ee also

*Parti Québécois leadership election, 2005
*Quebec sovereignty movement
*Politics of Quebec
*List of leaders of the Official Opposition (Quebec)
*List of third party leaders (Quebec)
*History of Quebec


External links

* [ Biography] at the official National Assembly of Quebec website en icon
* [ Parti Québécois] fr icon

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