Ex-Sep­a­ratist Que­bec Pre­mier Parizeau dies at 84

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Jac­ques Parizeau, the blunttalk­ing for­mer sep­a­ratist Que­bec pre­mier who came close to tak­ing the French-speak­ing prov­ince out of Canada, has died. He was 84.

Cur­rent Sep­a­ratist Parti Que­be­cois Leader Pierre Karl Pe­ladeau con­firmed the death Tues­day.

Pe­ladeau says the en­tire prov­ince is in mourn­ing. Que­bec Pre­mier Philippe Couil­lard and Canadian Prime Min­ster Stephen Harper ex­tended con­do­lences.

The blus­tery, mus­ta­chioed Parizeau was pre­mier dur­ing the 1995 pro­vin­cial ref­er­en­dum when Que­be­cois voted against sep­a­ra­tion by a slim mar­gin in a ref­er­en­dum.

In ca­reer- end­ing com­ments on ref­er­en­dum night, Parizeau blamed “money and the eth­nic vote” for the loss and was roundly crit­i­cized to the point that he re­signed as pre­mier a day later.

Parizeau lacked the com­mon touch so of­ten at­trib­uted to for­mer Parti Que­be­cois pre­mier Rene Levesque.

Parizeau never de­nied it and it put him in the shadow of then fed­eral sep­a­ratist Bloc Que­be­cois leader Lu­cien Bouchard dur­ing the ref­er­en­dum cam­paign. He even­tu­ally ceded the fore­front of the Yes com­mit­tee’s lead­er­ship to Bouchard, who had gained near mythic sta­tus with Que­be­cers af­ter sur­viv­ing a bout with deadly flesh- eat­ing dis­ease.

The strat­egy worked well. Bouchard stirred Que­be­cers with his pas­sion­ate or­a­tory while Parizeau worked be­hind the scenes, mak­ing Que­bec gov­ern­ment agen­cies squir­rel away bil­lions to off­set any fi­nan­cial shock from a sep­a­ratist win.

And as Bouchard touted the im­por­tance of ne­go­ti­at­ing with the rest of Canada, Parizeau courted France to rec­og­nize a Que­bec dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence.

“My sym­pa­thies to all of us,” Pe­ladeau said. “One of the great builders of the mod­ern Que­bec.”

Parizeau hailed from a prom­i­nent fam­ily in the up­scale Mon­treal sub­urb of Outremont. His fa­ther was a his­to­rian and au­thor as well as the pres­i­dent of an in­sur­ance com­pany. Parizeau stud­ied at the Univer­site de Mon­treal’s highly re­garded busi­ness school as well as in Paris. He was also schooled at the pres­ti­gious Lon­don School of Eco­nomics in the 1950s.

The fa­ther of two chil­dren — Is­abelle, a lawyer, and Bernard, a doc­tor — Parzeau was mar­ried to Pol­ish-born nov­el­ist Alice Poz­nan­ska, who died in 1990. In 1992, he mar­ried Lisette La­pointe, a for­mer aide who went on to forge her own po­lit­i­cal ca­reer as a mem­ber of the Que­bec na­tional as­sem­bly.

Fu­neral and burial plans have not yet been an­nounced.

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