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Quebec elects young premier Robert Bourassa

The Story

In the midst of a separation crisis Quebec elects a premier who says he'll make Confederation work. Robert Bourassa is an ardent federalist in an era filled with talk of Quebec's independence. The Parti Québécois believes separatism will solve provincial unemployment. But Bourassa trades on his economic background, claiming he'll create 100,000 new jobs by 1971. This CBC clip profiles Bourassa, who is the youngest premier in Quebec's history. 

Medium: Television
Program: Weekend
Broadcast Date: May 3, 1970
Guest: Robert Bourassa
Host: Lloyd Robertson
Interviewer: Ralph Thomas
Duration: 10:58

Did You know?

• Bourassa replaced Liberal leader Jean Lesage in 1969. Lesage was premier of Quebec from 1960 to 1966, an era dubbed the Quiet Revolution. During his time in office he reformed Quebec's economy by encouraging new business within the province.

• Bourassa brought practical economic experience to the premier's office. He had previously worked as research director for the Bélanger Commission - an initiative examining the economic implications of Quebec separating from Canada.

• From 1960 to 1966, Bourassa was fiscal advisor for the Department of National Revenue.

• Five months after becoming premier, Bourassa was faced with a difficult challenge. In October 1970 the Front de libération du Québec kidnapped Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte.

• Laporte wrote to Bourassa from captivity: "My dear Robert, I feel like I am writing the most important letter I have ever written ... my life is in your hands."

• Laporte's body was found in the trunk of a car five days later. He had been strangled to death.

• Quebecers criticized Bourassa for the way he handled the October Crisis.  When he called in the army, he was accused by journalists, including Peter Newman of The Toronto Star, of conspiring with Prime Minister Trudeau to set up a "government of safety."

• Bourassa denied the allegation: "I was not cornered either by Mr. Trudeau or Mr. Drapeau. The police forces were exhausted - this is normal - then I decided to call the army."


Robert Bourassa: Political Survivor more