Jacques ParizeauJacques Parizeau (born August 9, 1930) is a noted Quebec sovereigntist and former Premier of Quebec.
Parizeau, an economist, was one of the most important advisors to the provincial government during the 1960s, playing an important behind the scenes role in the Quiet Revolution. He was especially instrumental in the nationalization of Hydro-Quebec and in the creation of the Quebec Pension Plan.
Parizeau gradually became a strident sovereigntist and joined the Parti Québécois in 1968. In the 1976 Quebec election when the sovereigntists under René Lévesque were elected to office Parizeau was made finance minister. Parizeau played an important role in the failed 1980 Quebec referendum.
In 1984 he had a falling out with Lévesque. Lévesque moved away from pursuing sovereignty to focus on governing Quebec, Parizeau disagreed and resigned his position and temporarily retired from politics. Lévesque retired soon after and was replaced by Pierre-Marc Johnson, but in 1987 Johnson also left office. Parizeau, still a widely liked figure, was elected to replace him.
In Parizeau first election as leader in 1989 the PQ did not fare well, but five years later in 1994 they won a convincing majority government. Parizeau promised to hold a referendum on Quebec sovereignty within a year of his election and despite many objections he followed through on this promise. In the beginning sovereignty was sitting at only about 40% support in the polls, but as the campaign wore on the "Yes" side grew larger. This growth halted, however, and Parizeau came under pressure to hand more of the campaign over to Bloc Québécois leader Lucien Bouchard. Parizeau agreed, and as the campaign progressed lost his leadership role to Bouchard.
On the night of the referendum Quebec came within only a few thousands of votes of separation, but the Yes side still lost. In his concession speech, for which many believe Parizeau was intoxicated, he famously blamed the defeat on "money and the ethnic vote." Because of the defeat and of his remark, which he himself has characterized as unfortunate and as meriting the disapproval it received, Parizeau announced his resignation as Quebec premier the next day and was soon after replaced by Lucien Bouchard.
Parizeau retired to private life, but continued to make comments critical of Bouchard's new government and its failure to press the cause of Quebec independence.
Daniel Johnson, Jr
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