Transpartisan tribute for René Lévesque’s 100th birthday
Despite the fact that his ultimate goal – the sovereignty of Quebec – has not been achieved, as he approaches the centenary of his birth, the legacy of René Lévesque still manages to unite Quebecers of various origins and political affiliations, 100 years later.
On June 13 at the Grande Bibliothèque, the René-Lévesque Foundation kicked off the Lévesque Year, celebrated until June 2023 through a series of events in Montreal, Quebec City and New Carlisle in Gaspésie. , the birthplace of the former prime minister.
Premier François Legault was present alongside former Premier and Honorary President of the festivities, Lucien Bouchard. The three opposition leaders – Dominique Anglade of the Liberal Party, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon of the Parti Québécois and Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, co-spokesperson for Québec Solidaire, were also there, as well as Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet and several tenors of the sovereigntist movement such as the former leader of the Bloc Québécois Gilles Duceppe.
The Prime Minister – and former PQ MP – François Legault underlined “one of the most outstanding figures in the history of Quebec”. A person who allowed Quebec to “think big”. Lucien Bouchard hailed his predecessor’s “indelible imprint” and reiterated his own faith in the need for Quebec independence.
Liberal leader Dominique Anglade wanted to be present at this cross-party rally in honor of a politician who, she recalled, piloted the project to nationalize Hydro-Québec as a minister in the Liberal government of Jean The wise. She also praised his expanded conception of nationalism, under which “people like [ses] parents, of immigrant origin” were able to find their place as Quebecers.
“A project that is still alive”
PQ MP Pascal Bérubé traveled from Matane to pay tribute to an exceptional Gaspésien. He hopes that the series of tributes to René Lévesque will help breathe new life into the PQ and the sovereignist movement. “Even when it was difficult, at the start of the movement, Mr. Lévesque never backed down. Yes, [réfléchir sur ces acquis] can give new impetus to the sovereignist movement,” he said.
For former PQ leader Jean-François Lisée, the event was an opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of the sovereignist movement and its persistence. Despite projections that the PQ could collapse after next October’s elections. “If there is a year when we talk about independence, it is a year when we say to the younger generations: “This project is magnificent and it is still alive”.
An arrow for Legault and Drainville
His successor Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, initially excluded from the festivities before being added to the program by the Foundation last week, was the only politician who allowed himself an openly partisan intervention on the platform. He fired an arrow at Legault and former PQ minister Bernard Drainville, recently joined the CAQ. “If you try to be nationalists inside Canada, you’re going to fail,” he said. For him, the Canadian federation is designed to “eliminate the Quebec difference” by making it “folkloric”.
“It’s up to us to take the stick, cross the finish line and say, ‘Mission accomplished, Mr. Lévesque,'” concluded the PQ leader.
Events scheduled as part of the Year Lévesque include a walking tour in Montreal (opening scheduled for August 24), an exhibition on the life of Lévesque at the Musée de la civilization in Quebec City and the presentation of a Quebec prize in journalism named in honor of René Lévesque, former war correspondent and host for Radio-Canada. The complete program can be found on the foundation’s website.