Bourassa statue unveiled as street naming stirs controversy
Former Quebec premier Robert Bourassa was honoured in the provincial capital on Thursday, but another proposed tribute to the Liberal politician spurred criticism in Montreal.
In Quebec City, a 2Â½-metre bronze statue of Bourassa was unveiledin front of the national assembly, not far from a statue of longtime political rival RenÃ© LÃ©vesque.
Premier Jean Charest, Opposition Leader AndrÃ© Boisclair, and former premiers Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard all attended the event.
"I always found in him someone who was straight, loyal to ideas and to his idea of how things should be done," said Parizeau.
Bourassa was premiertwice — from 1970 to 1976, and again from 1985 to 1994.
He died of skin cancer on Oct. 2, 1996, in Montreal.
Montreal merchants oppose street's renaming
The City of Montreal's decision to rename Parc Avenue in honour of Bourassa, however,is causing a stir among residents.
The city's executive council voted Wednesday to rename the north-south artery after the late premier.
Montreal Mayor GÃ©rald Tremblay said Bourassa was an important figure in Quebec history and it wasfitting that Parc Avenue be renamed in his honour.
"It's a main artery of the city. It was in the heart of two ridings in which Mr. Bourassa has either lived in or represented: Mercier and Outremont. And it crosses RenÃ© LÃ©vesque Boulevard, so it's a good symbol to have Robert Bourassa and RenÃ© LÃ©vesque at a juncture that is important," Tremblay said on Wednesday.
But the proposed change is not sitting well with Parc Avenue merchants, especially those who have businesses named after the thoroughfare.
"We were not informed. Nobody consulted us," said Dimitri Galanis, the president of the Parc Avenue Merchants Association. "Now I don't know if there's much we can do, even if we agree or don't agree."
Some residents in the area are not pleased either."The name existed a hundred years ago, so I think [a change] would cause confusion," said Deborah Stein.
Changeneeds approval from council, province
Robert Bourassa Avenue will eventually extend from Jean-Talon Street in the north to St. Antoine Street in Old Montreal.
The change must be approved by city council and the provincial government, which could take up to a year.
Bourassamade history as the youngest premier in Quebec's history, taking office at age 36. He led the province through the October Crisis, and introduced the groundbreaking Bill 22, which made French Quebec's official language.
Helost the 1976 provincial election toLÃ©vesque, then leader of the Parti QuÃ©bÃ©cois, but engineered an unlikely political comeback in the 1980s, becoming just the third man to regain the post.
In addition to Bourassa and LÃ©vesque, there are statues of former premiers HonorÃ© Mercier, Maurice Duplessis, AdÃ©lard Godbout and Jean Lesage outside Quebec's legislature.
With files from the Canadian Press