André Bachand (Progressive Conservative MP)

André Bachand (Progressive Conservative MP)

:"Not to be confused with André Bachand, Liberal MP from Missisquoi"

André Bachand (born December 8, 1961 in Quebec City, Quebec) is a Canadian politician, who represented the riding of Richmond—Arthabaska as member of the Progressive Conservatives from 1997 to 2003.

When the PC Party was merged with the Canadian Alliance into the Conservative Party in December of 2003, Bachand left the party and sat as an "Independent Progressive Conservative" until the 2004 election, and then retired from the House of Commons.

Bachand has been an administrator, and a business executive. He was the mayor of Asbestos, Quebec from 1986 to 1997, and was the Préfet of the MRC d'Asbestos from 1987 to 1997.

Young Turk

Bachand was first elected as a member of the Progressive Conservative Party in 1997, one of five PC MPs elected that year in Quebec on the coattails of Sherbrooke MP Jean Charest. Bachand was one of a handful of new "Young Turk" PC MPs (along with Scott Brison, John Herron and Peter MacKay) who were considered the future youthful leadership material that would restore the ailing Tories to their glory days. In 1998, Jean Charest stepped down as federal Progressive Conservative leader to make the move to Quebec provincial politics, becoming leader of the federalist Liberal Party of Quebec (unaffiliated with the Liberal Party of Canada). Bachand was one of many who unsuccessfully tried to convince Charest to remain in federal politics for at least one more election. Joe Clark succeeded Charest as leader of the PC Party and Bachand was supportive of Clark's candidacy.

Difficult Times

The Quebec-wing of the federal PC Party parliamentary Caucus wrestled with several internal policy issues in the late 1990s after Charest's departure including the party's bilingualism policies and the autonomy of provinces in respect to federal powers. Shortly after Joe Clark was elected leader of the federal Tory Party, the federal government brought forward the Clarity Act. The Clarity Act was a Liberal Party of Canada sponsored Bill introduced by then Minister of Intergovernmental affairs Stéphane Dion. The Clarity Act detailed specifically how the province of Quebec could separate and under what conditions a separation could be legal. Clark chose to support Bachand and the Quebec PC Caucus MPs in the party and stated that he was against the Clarity Act while the fifteen other English MPs in the PC parliamentary Caucus voted in favour of the Bill regardless of Clark's stance.

Quebec Lieutenant

By 1999 Bachand had emerged as the nominal Quebec lieutenant of the Conservatives, attending most PC events in the province with Clark and acting as the party's chief spokesman for Quebec issues. Bachand also was the chief responder to the multiple defections of Quebec Tory party officials, MPs and Senators to the Liberal and Canadian Alliance Parties during this period. In September 2000, three Quebec PC MPs, fearful of their re-election prospects under Clark's leadership, crossed the floor shortly before the federal election to sit as Liberal MPs, leaving Bachand as the only remaining PC MP in Quebec. He was subsequently re-elected in the 2000 election, as were all three of the MPs who crossed the floor. The Tories emerged from the election retaining party status.

Deputy Leader

In January 2003, Bachand announced his candidacy for the leadership of the Progressive Conservatives. However, a month before the May leadership convention, Bachand dropped out of the race due to finance concerns. It is estimated that Bachand's abortive leadership attempt personally cost him and his family upwards of $600, 000. When it became clear to Bachand that he would only be able to secure roughly 100 delegates, largely from Quebec, he announced his withdrawal. Once Bachand withdrew, he pledged his support to Nova Scotia PC MP Peter MacKay. Some political analysts have suggested that in exchange for Bachand's endorsement, MacKay agreed to assume Bachand's campaign debts. After MacKay's victory, Bachand briefly served as Deputy Leader of the Progressive Conservatives until early December 2003. Before becoming Deputy Leader, Bachand served as the Deputy House Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, as well as its critic for the Intergovernmental Affairs, Industry, Science Research and Development, and the Deputy Prime Minister portfolios.

Lone Independent

When the party merged with the Canadian Alliance at the end of 2003, Bachand announced that he would retire from politics. Bachand did not sit with the new Conservative Party of Canada Caucus, and became an independent MP until the June 2004 election. During the June 2004 election, Bachand endorsed the Liberal candidate in the Richmond—Arthabaska race over the Conservative and Bloc Québécois challengers. The riding was ultimately carried by the BQ in their electoral sweep of the province.

Bachand's departure from federal politics has been lamented by many Tories hailing from Quebec. In a "Maclean's" article covering the March 2005 founding policy convention of the new Conservative Party, Senator Pierre Claude Nolin mused that if Bachand had remained elected and participatory in the new party, he would have likely replaced Peter MacKay as deputy leader, and would have served as the new Conservative Party's chief Quebec lieutenant as part of Stephen Harper's attempts to woo Quebec voters into supporting the Tories. In the 2006 election, the new Conservative Party won 10 seats from Quebec, and some suggest that Bachand may have missed his chance at becoming Deputy Prime Minister.

Return in Politics

Bachand has annonced that he will be the Conservative Party candidate for the district of Sherbrooke in the 40th Canadian General Election. [ [ André Bachand confirme son retour en politique, La Tribune, Sherbrooke, September 3, 2008] ]


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