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Lucien Bouchard

Lucien Bouchard, born on December 22, 1938 in Saint-Coeur-de-Marie, Quebec, is a Canadian lawyer and separatist politician who was Premier of Quebec from 1996-2001.

Bouchard graduated from Jonquière Classical College in 1959 and then went on to obtain a Bachelor's degree in social science and a law degree at Laval University in 1964.

He served as the chairman of the "Yes" side during the 1980 referendum on Quebec sovereignty. In 1988 he was appointed ambassador to France. He then joined Brian Mulroney's cabinet as secretary of state and later minister of the environment (1988-1990). While still a strong Quebec nationalist, he and Mulroney thought that with a new constitutional arrangement Quebec's position within Canada could be improved.

In 1990, annoyed at the failure of the Meech Lake Accord, he resigned from the Tories and with a group of dissident MPs formed the sovereigntist Bloc Québécois. Bouchard was immensely popular in Quebec, and with the collapse of the Tories and Jean Chrétien's continued unpopularity in his home province the Bloc swept Quebec winning most of its ridings. Bouchard became the first separatist leader of the Opposition heading the Bloc delegation in Parliament from 1993 to 1996. During the 1995 Quebec referendum Bouchard at first left the leadership of the campaign to Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau. As support for sovereignty began to flag, however, the more popular Bouchard began to become more prominent. By the end of the campaign he was clearly in command. He made a major gaff during the campaign, however, when he described Quebeckers as being the "white race with the lowest rate of reproduction" in the world. This greatly offended many non-white Quebeckers.

After the Yes side lost the referendum Parizeau resigned as Quebec premier and Bouchard decided to replace him. He thus resigned his seat in Parliament in 1996 and became the leader of the Parti Québécois and premier of Quebec. During his time in office he turned more towards his Tory Quebec nationalism and did not strongly push for sovereignty, despite pressure from many members of his party. He kept stating that proper conditions would need to be in place to hold a referendum. During his time in office from 1996 to 2001 these conditions never arose and no referendum was held. Bouchard's main concern was the economy and he made many deep cuts to provincial spending. Most controversial were cuts to health care and the amalgamation of Quebec's cities. In December 1994, he lost a leg to necrotizing fasciitis ("flesh-eating disease"), becoming possibly the most famous victim of this rare disease. Bouchard retired from politics in 2001 and was replaced by Bernard Landry as Quebec premier. In retirement Bouchard's political affiliation has become suspect as he was known to give advice to Mario Dumont, the leader of the Action démocratique du Québec, or ADQ. The move marked the sixth political party Bouchard had been involved in. According to Lawrence Martin, who wrote a book on Bouchard called The Antagonist, Bouchard started with the NDP in the 1960s, then switched to the Liberals in 1968, then joined the PQ in 1970 only to abandon them for the Conservatives in 1984 and then started the Bloc Québécois in 1990 only to return to the PQ in 1996. His talks with Dumont took place in 2002.

He is married to Audrey Best (born 1960), a California-born airline stewardess he met on an international flight. They have two children, Alexandre and Simon.

Preceded by:
Jacques Parizeau
List of Quebec premiers Succeeded by:
Bernard Landry