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Jean Lapierre

The Honourable
Jean Lapierre
Member of Parliament
for Shefford
In office
Preceded by Gilbert Rondeau
Succeeded by Jean H. Leroux
Member of Parliament
for Outremont
In office
July 20, 2004 – January 28, 2007
Preceded by Martin Cauchon
Succeeded by Thomas Mulcair
Personal details
Born Jean-Charles Lapierre
(1956-05-07) May 7, 1956
Bassin, Quebec
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Nicole Beaulieu
Residence Montreal
Profession broadcaster

Jean-Charles Lapierre, PC (born May 7, 1956) is a Canadian television broadcaster and a former federal politician.

He was Paul Martin's Quebec lieutenant during the period of the Martin government. He returned to the Canadian House of Commons after an eleven-year absence when he won a seat in the 2004 federal election for the Montreal riding of Outremont. On July 20, 2004, he was appointed to the Canadian Cabinet as Minister of Transport, serving until February 6, 2006. On January 11, 2007, Lapierre announced his intention to resign from federal politics. He resigned as the MP for Outremont on January 28, 2007.


  • Early political career 1
    • Liberal 1.1
    • Bloc Québécois 1.2
  • Broadcaster 2
  • Return to Liberals 3
    • 2004 federal election 3.1
    • Minister of Transport 3.2
    • Opposition 3.3
    • Retirement 3.4
  • Electoral record (partial) 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early political career


He originally served in the House of Commons from 1979 to 1993, representing the riding of Shefford, sitting as a Liberal from 1979 to 1990. A Quebec federalist who fought the 1980 Quebec referendum beside Pierre Trudeau. Trudeau retired from politics in 1984 and was succeeded as Prime Minister and party leader by John Turner. Lapierre was appointed to cabinet (at the time, the youngest minister to serve in a federal cabinet, at age 28) as minister of state for youth and amateur sport and his tenure was brief as Turner called an election nine days after being sworn in, which the Liberals lost.

Lapierre was a strong proponent of the Meech Lake Accord, while Turner and Martin also expressed support for it, though Trudeau publicly campaigned against it and his protege Chrétien was later revealed to oppose it as well.

Lapierre's group led a stir at the 1990 Liberal Leadership Convention in Calgary when Jean Chrétien embraced Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador Clyde Wells hours after the latter had helped kill the Meech Lake Accord. Lapierre's followers wore black armbands and yelled "Vendu!" (sell out!) at Jean Chrétien. Lapierre had supported Paul Martin's unsuccessful campaign for the Liberal leadership. Chrétien, a staunch federalist like Trudeau, won the leadership the day of the failure of the Meech Lake Accords and Lapierre left the party as a result.

Bloc Québécois

Upon leaving the Liberals, sitting as an independent, he helped to found the Bloc Québécois and served in their first caucus. In 1992, he retired from politics for a time and abandoned his affiliation with the Bloc. Lapierre himself has maintains that he was never really a separatist and that he was the "red of the rainbow" in a temporary ad hoc rainbow coalition, saying that he wanted a level playing field for Quebec.[1]


In private life, Lapierre had a very high profile in Quebec as a broadcaster and talk show host for Montreal radio station CKAC. He also worked simultaneously as a TV news presenter for a time. He had a reputation for being extremely well-connected, able to pick up the phone and arrange meetings between different Quebecers from all walks of life, and was sometimes sought for behind-the-scenes political advice. As a talk show host, Lapierre was free to speak his mind and some have speculated that he may find the rules of politics to be somewhat constraining, in particular the requirement to stay "on message."

Return to Liberals

He never really gave up his political ambitions and his personal loyalty to Paul Martin was well known in Quebec. He returned to politics soon after being promised a senior cabinet post by Paul Martin who became Liberal leader in December 2003.

Lapierre differed from the other Quebec lieutenants before him, most of whom were cautious, soft-spoken, and ever mindful of the impact of their Quebec actions on the rest of Canada. Lapierre by contrast had what a commentator described as a "rough and tumble, shoot from the hip style of politics", being known for his flamboyance, aggressiveness, his toughness, his rudeness and arrogance.[2]

Some questioned the need for a Quebec lieutenant as Martin himself was bilingual, and polls showed fading support for the Bloc Québécois and Parti Québécois (who had just lost the 2003 provincial election). Others believed that Martin placed high importance on the province for the upcoming election, hoping to fare significantly better than Chrétien had. Some speculated that Martin had anticipated another Quebec referendum (and remembering the near separatist win in the 1995 referendum), with Lapierre's understanding of Quebec nationalism and the Bloc being crucial to winning over the nationalist vote.[2]

2004 federal election

In the 2004 federal election, Lapierre was expected to deliver the vote in Quebec, but in the wake of the sponsorship scandal, this was a difficult task. The scandal severely hurt the party's support, especially in that province, while the rival Bloc Québécois gained support. Lapierre commented that that it would help the Liberals if the Royal Canadian Mounted Police could "lay some charges already" in the sponsorship probe.[3] Years afterwards, Lapierre compared the impact of the sponsorship scandal to getting hit by a Mack truck.[4] When Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe tried to link Liza Frulla to the Sponsorship Scandal, saying that her 2002 byelection campaign was funded by members implicated in Adscam, Lapierre described it as "the cheapest thing you can do—try to start gossip that has no foundation".[5]

After Duceppe boasted that he would make the Liberals in the province disappear, Lapierre said "[that] kind of language, where you want to make people disappear, there is a bit of a tone of Nazism in that".[5][6] Canadian Jewish Congress CEO Bernie Farber said that Duceppe may have been overzealous, but Lapierre's Nazi analogy was inappropriate and such uses "have a tendency to minimize the horrors of Nazism".[7] Duceppe later apologized for his remarks, saying that he meant that the Bloc would take every federal Liberal seat, while Lapierre told a Quebec radio station that he would not use the term "Nazi" again. Lapierre also denied that there was a fiscal imbalance during an interview; the BQ dug up an article that he had written four years ago on February 2000 where he criticized the Liberal government for cutting transfer payments which "strangled the provinces".[8]

The Liberals were able to retain a plurality of seats to continue governing, but they were reduced to a minority. In Quebec, they lost 15 of the 36 seats won in 2000, and their popular vote fell from 44% to 34%, while the Bloc Québécois captured 54 of the 75 seats.

Minister of Transport

As Minister of Transport, Lapierre initiated the Pacific Gateway Strategy, signing air transport agreements with China and India and completed a formal Canada-US Open Skies Agreement. He also spearheaded a large federal investment in the Prince Rupert container terminal, saying that it improved ties to Asian markets, while enhancing economic development in northern BC and Alberta. Lapierre reduced the amount paid by airports to the federal government by some $5 billion over the remaining life of the leases. He announced the implementation of a No Fly List for airline passengers.[9]

Lapierre's predecessor as Transport Minister, Tony Valeri, did not follow due process in the dismissal of VIA Rail chairman Jean Pelletier, causing Pelletier to file a lawsuit. A federal court ruled that dismissal did not follow due process and ordered him reinstated in November 2005. Although he was reinstated, the government appealed the court ruling and kept him off the payroll. Lapierre ensured that due process was followed in dismissing Pelletier a second time.[10] Justice Francois Lemieux ruled in March 2007 that the Martin government acted improperly in 2005 when it fired Pelletier a second time, immediately after a court overturned his first dismissal as head of Via Rail, stating that Lapierre was biased and failed to follow proper procedures.[11] On November 22, 2007, Judge Hélène Langlois of Quebec Superior Court ruled that government of then-Prime Minister Paul Martin had acted in a "cavalier and precipitous" fashion when it fired Pelletier. Pelletier was awarded $235,000 in lost income, and a further $100,000 for damaging his reputation.[12]

Lapierre and his department were criticised for their handling of the Jetsgo collapse. Critics argued that he should have seen warning signs after unsuccessful attempts to lower the carrier's costs. They also said that he had failed to warn the public or intervene, making him indirectly responsible for stranding thousands of travellers. Lapierre rejected calls to resign, and denied that he had any knowledge of the collapse. He pointed out that most of the passengers had booked flights with credit cards and would be eligible for refunds.[13]

When Gilles Duceppe decided not to enter provincial politics after Bernard Landry resigned as Parti Québécois leader, Lapierre called him a coward. He was criticized for these comments and was seen by some as trying to goad the Bloc leader into changing his mind, a decision that almost undoubtedly would help to sell separatism in Quebec.[14][15]


Lapierre retained his position as Quebec lieutenant for the 2006 election and he was personally re-elected without much difficulty, though with a reduced margin.[16] However, the Liberals lost power in the campaign, falling from 21 to 13 seats in Quebec, and even being surpassed by the Conservatives in the popular vote.

Paul Martin resigned as parliamentary leader on election night, and as party leader a month later. Interim successor Bill Graham appointed Lapierre to his shadow cabinet as Industry critic.

Lapierre was neutral at the 2006 Liberal leadership election, where Stéphane Dion was elected Liberal leader. Lapierre afterwards planned to announce that he would not run for re-election in Outremont, saying that his "commitment was to Mr. Martin for one mandate" and that he felt "personally and morally relieved of his obligation" after the party paid tribute to the outgoing Liberal leader at the Montreal convention. Lapierre also commented that Dion was the first leader not to have to cope with a divided party, after decades of infighting between Trudeau/Turner and Chrétien/Martin.


On January 11, 2007, Lapierre announced that he was going to retire at the end of the month.[17] He did so on January 28, 2007.

He returned as a political analyst with Quebec television network TVA and Montreal radio station 98.5 FM. He co-hosts a political show with reporter Paul Larocque called Larocque-Lapierre.[18] He is also political commentator for CJAD radio in Montreal and FM 93 in Quebec city. He contributes regularly to Power Play and Question Period on the CTV network.

In 2014, he was coauthor with Chantal Hébert of the non-fiction book The Morning After: The 1995 Quebec Referendum and the Day that Almost Was,[19] which was a shortlisted nominee for the 2015 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.[20]

Electoral record (partial)

Canadian federal election, 2006: Outremont
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Liberal Jean Lapierre 14,282 35.18 −5.76 $69,816
Bloc Québécois Jacques Léonard 11,778 29.01 −4.24 $63,590
New Democratic Léo-Paul Lauzon 6,984 17.20 +3.14 $26,625
Conservative Daniel Fournier 5,168 12.73 +6.76 $73,991
Green François Pilon 1,957 4.82 +0.53 $425
     Independent Eric Roach Denis 101 0.25 $431
     Progressive Canadian Philip Paynter 94 0.23 none listed
Marxist–Leninist Linda Sullivan 88 0.22 −0.09 none listed
     Independent Yan Lacombe 85 0.21 none listed
     Independent Xavier Rochon 34 0.08 $572
     Independent Régent Millette 22 0.05 none listed
Total valid votes 40,593 100.00
Total rejected ballots 282 0.69
Turnout 40,875 60.78 −4.65
Electors on the lists 67,253

Source: Official Results, Elections Canada and Financial Returns, Elections Canada.

Canadian federal election, 2004: Outremont
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
Liberal Jean Lapierre 15,675 40.94 $58,392
Bloc Québécois François Rebello 12,730 33.25 $63,640
New Democratic Omar Aktouf 5,382 14.06 $11,371
Conservative Marc Rousseau 2,284 5.97 $38,835
Green Shaun Perceval-Maxwell 1,643 4.29 475
Marijuana Yan Lacombe 452 1.18 none listed
Marxist–Leninist Linda Sullivan 120 0.31 none listed
Total valid votes 38,286 100.00
Total rejected ballots 359
Turnout 38,645 56.13
Electors on the lists 68,855

Source: Official Results, Elections Canada.


  1. ^ "CBC News Former BQ MP appointed Martin's Quebec lieutenant". 2004-02-05. Retrieved 2011-03-28. 
  2. ^ a b LARRY ZOLF:Quebec Lieutenants Archived November 28, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "CalgaryGrit - Jean Lapierre". 2004-05-16. Retrieved 2011-03-28. 
  4. ^ "CTV - Liberals pay tribute to Paul Martin at convention". 2006-11-30. Retrieved 2011-03-28. 
  5. ^ a b Post, National (2005-12-05). "'"National Post - Duceppe vows to make Liberals 'disappear. Retrieved 2011-03-28. 
  6. ^ "'"CBC - Duceppe apologizes for remarks about making Liberals 'disappear. 2005-12-05. Retrieved 2011-03-28. 
  7. ^ "CBC - Lapierre's Nazi analogy inappropriate, Jewish groups say". 2005-12-05. Retrieved 2011-03-28. 
  8. ^ "'''NOTE: Dead Link'''". Retrieved 2011-03-28. 
  9. ^ "CTV - Ottawa plans to develop no-fly list: Lapierre". 2005-08-06. Retrieved 2011-03-28. 
  10. ^ Clark, Campbell; Globe and Mail (December 23, 2005), Liberals fire Pelletier from railway - Again. Retrieved December 23, 2005.
  11. ^ "CTV - Court orders feds, Via to pay Pelletier $335,000". Retrieved 2011-03-28. 
  12. ^ "Court awards damages to Pelletier". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  13. ^ "Minister rejects calls to resign over Jetsgo". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  14. ^ "CTV - Duceppe to remain as Bloc Québécois leader". 2005-06-13. Retrieved 2011-03-28. 
  15. ^ "CalgaryGrit - The Cowardly Lion". 2005-06-13. Retrieved 2011-03-28. 
  16. ^ Chris Selley, (2007-02-09). "Macleans - The fight for the sextuplets". Retrieved 2011-03-28. 
  17. ^ "Quebec Liberal MP Jean Lapierre will quit by month's end". 2007-01-11. Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  18. ^ Démission prochaine du libéral Jean Lapierre (French article)
  19. ^ "Canadian fall books list long, diverse and quirky; Big names in fiction and politics". Montreal Gazette, September 14, 2014.
  20. ^ "Shaughnessy Cohen Prize finalists announced". The Globe and Mail, January 27, 2015.

External links

  • Jean Lapierre – Parliament of Canada biography
27th Ministry – Cabinet of Paul Martin
Cabinet Post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
Tony Valeri Minister of Transport
Lawrence Cannon
23rd Ministry – Cabinet of John Turner
Cabinet Post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
' Minister of State (Youth) (Fitness and Amateur Sport)
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