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Robert Bourassa

Born in Montréal, Robert Bourassa (1933–1996) was a lawyer, civil servant, professor, and a Quebec politician. He received his law degree from the Université de Montréal in 1956 and was admitted to the Quebec bar in 1957. After graduate study at Oxford and Harvard universities, between 1960 and 1966 Bourassa advised the Department of National Revenue on fiscal policy, taught at the University of Ottawa, Laval University and the Université de Montréal, and was research director for the Bélanger Commission on fiscal policy. Mentored by Jean Lesage, Bourassa entered provincial politics in 1966, becoming leader of the Quebec Liberal Party after Lesage’s resignation and Premier of Quebec in April 1970. Bourassa’s campaign platform had emphasized job creation through the James Bay hydroelectric project. However, the 1970 medical specialists’ strike and the October Crisis forced Bourassa to turn his attention from job creation to conflict resolution. The rule of law prevailed against both the strikers and the Front de Libération du Québec as, after negotiations failed, the National Assembly legislated the specialists back to work on November 1, 1970.  Although Bourassa won re-election in 1973, he lost the 1976 election due to charges of corruption and rising Quebec nationalism. The Bourassa government’s application of the rule of law secured medicare for the people of Quebec.

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    Date Created: March 31, 2010 | Last Updated: April 21, 2010