Co-founder of the Parti Québécois, Member of Parliament, Minister and even Deputy Prime Minister, Marc-André Bédard is one of the sacred monsters of Quebec politics to whom we owe several achievements such as the creation of the Judicial Council. He died on Wednesday at the age of 85 from complications from COVID-19.
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Born in Lac-à-la-Croix, Lac-Saint-Jean, on August 15, 1935, Marc-André Bédard studied in the region, in Saint-Honoré, and at the Séminaire de Chicoutimi before going to Ottawa to obtain a law degree.
It was during his classical studies that he forged his sovereignist convictions. “I am convinced that the future of Quebec is not to be a minority forever. It is to become, because we are capable of becoming, a country, a people that shines in the world for its progressive aspect, its conciliatory aspect ”, he confided in an interview, 10 years ago, to the “Memoirs of deputies” broadcast on the National Assembly Channel.
Admitted to the Quebec Bar in December 1960, after more than 40 years he received the prestigious honorary distinction of Lawyer Emeritus (Ad. E.) from the Quebec Bar in 2007.
From the 1960s, he campaigned for the sovereignist cause, notably sitting on the national executive of the Parti Québécois (PQ), between 1968 and 1974. Observers admit that he contributed to the unification of independence groups.
It was in 1973 that he was first elected to the National Assembly after being defeated in Chicoutimi in 1970. The newly elected Chicoutimi was re-elected in 1976 and 1981.
He believed that the definition of politics was not intended to change. “Essentially, it is serving a population, having convictions […] and you have to have the taste to imagine the future [d’une région, d’un comté et d’un pays] and have the will to make a population happy, “said the father of four children, including ex-minister Stéphane Bédard, a contributor to” La Joute “at LCN.
“I tried to do my best to meet that definition,” he added humbly.
When the PQ won the 1976 election and formed the government for the first time, he acceded to the council of ministers and Prime Minister René Lévesque gave him the prestigious portfolio of justice, in addition to being attorney and solicitor general. “I was happy to be in this industry that I knew,” he said in 2011.
As Minister of Justice until 1984, he carried out several important reforms. Accessibility and humanization of justice as well as the reduction of arbitrariness were its guidelines.
“Justice is not sovereignist, it is not federalist. It must be honest and credible, “he has already argued.
Among other things, he presided over the creation of the Judicial Council and introduced a new method of appointing judges. He also passed major amendments to the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms, concerning sexual orientation, disability and equal access programs.
He was the initiator at the National Assembly of the law establishing a new Civil Code of Quebec on the reform of family law and adopted the reform of family law enshrining the equality of spouses before the law.
Marc-André Bédard was also Minister for Electoral Reform between 1979 and 1985, Government House Leader and Deputy Prime Minister of René Lévesque then of Pierre Marc Johnson. He chose not to run for re-election in 1985, then retired from active politics to devote himself to practicing law.
In addition to his tireless commitment to his region, he is also responsible for amending the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. One of his first decisions as Minister of Justice was to decide that “sexual orientation would no longer be a ground for discrimination”.
In fact, in 2008 he received the Fight Against Homophobia award from the Fondation Émergence du Québec.
In 2013, he received from Prime Minister Pauline Marois the title of Officer of the National Order of Quebec.
1935: birth in Lac-à-la-Croix, in Lac-Saint-Jean, on August 15
1960: admitted to the Quebec Bar in December
1968: alongside René Lévesque, when the Parti Québécois was founded. He sits on the national executive of the new sovereignist party
1973: first elected Member of Parliament for Chicoutimi, after being defeated in the 1970 general election.
1976: the Parti Quebecois takes power and becomes Minister of Justice.
1985: Deputy Prime Minister in the government of Pierre Marc Johnson, he announces his withdrawal from active politics and returns to the practice of law
2013: awarded the Ordre national du Québec in June 2013
2020: death in Chicoutimi, at the age of 85 years and 3 months, on November 25
- In his brilliant career as a lawyer in Chicoutimi, he succeeded in acquitting two men wrongly accused of murder in 1973
- As minister, he created the Conseil de la magistrature, revamped the method of appointing judges, and modernized family law.
- He worked for the reform of the Civil Code of Quebec
- He had the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms amended to prohibit all forms of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, a first in America