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1990: Introducing the Bloc Québécois

The Story

"Everyone that thought it would be business as usual the day after [the failure of Meech Lake], you're in for a big surprise," warns former Liberal MP Jean Lapierre. Lapierre has banded together with six other disaffected sovereigntists who were disappointed with the failure of the constitutional accord. These politicians have united under the banner of the Bloc Québécois and are led by former federal Tory Environment Minister Lucien Bouchard. The group aims to be the official voice for a sovereign Quebec in Ottawa.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: July 25, 1990
Guest(s): Lucien Bouchard, Herb Gray, Jean Lapierre
Host: Knowlton Nash
Reporter: Neil MacDonald
Duration: 2:30

Did You know?

• The Bloc Québécois was first made up of six former Progressive Conservatives and one former Liberal.

• In their manifesto, the group stated, "our national allegiance is to Quebec. The territory we belong to is that of Quebec, home of a people of French language whose sovereignty we intend to promote." They also indicated, "We consider the Quebec National Assembly to be, in law and in fact, the supreme democratic institution of the Quebec people. It is through it that their sovereign authority should express itself."

• The group was not, however, immediately recognized as an official party. House of Commons rules stipulate that a party must have at least 12 MPs to be officially recognized for speaking privileges and funding allowances.

• In August 1990, Gilles Duceppe successfully ran in the Laurier-Sainte-Marie by-election and became the first Bloc Québécois MP to be elected to the House of Commons. In a landslide victory, Duceppe captured an overwhelming 67 per cent of the vote. The Liberals' Denis Coderre received just 19 per cent of the vote while the NDP's Louise O'Neill captured seven per cent. Conservative Christian Fortin received four per cent.

• On June 15, 1991, the BQ became an official party and Bouchard was elected its first leader. Approximately 600 supporters attended the founding convention.

• In the 1993 federal election, Bouchard and 53 other BQ members were elected to the House of Commons to form the Official Opposition. 

• Following the failed 1995 referendum on Quebec's separation from Canada, Bouchard jumped parties to become Quebec's premier and leader of the Parti Québécois. Duceppe took the reins of the BQ. In the 2006 election, the BQ won in 51 ridings. Disheartened by the lack of support for the separatist cause in Quebec, Bouchard resigned as premier in 2001.

Also on July 25:
1917: Finance Minister Sir Thomas White introduces the Income Tax War Bill. The graduated tax on the personal income of Canadians was a wartime measure only.
1952: CBC/Radio Canada television covers a Montreal Royals baseball game. It is the first experimental Canadian telecast. Regular programming begins in September.
1973: Louis St-Laurent dies in Quebec City at age 91. He served as Canada's 12th Prime Minister from Nov. 15, 1948 to June 21, 1957.


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