Jean Lapierre


Jean Lapierre

Infobox CanadianMP
honorific-prefix =The Honourable
name=Jean Lapierre


constituency_MP = Shefford
term_start=1979
term_end=1993
predecessor=Gilbert Rondeau
successor=Jean H. Leroux
constituency_MP2 = Outremont
term_start2=July 20, 2004
term_end2=January 28, 2007
predecessor2=Martin Cauchon
successor2=Thomas Mulcair
birth_date= birth date and age|1956|05|07
birth_place= Bassin, Quebec
death_date=
death_place=
profession=broadcaster
party=Liberal
party colour=Liberal
residence=Montreal
spouse=Caroline Lapierre
riding=
footnotes=|

Jean-Claude Lapierre, PC is a Canadian television broadcaster and a former federal politician.

He a member of the Liberal Party of Canada and was Paul Martin's Quebec lieutenant during 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, Mr. Lapierre announced his intention to resign from Federal politics. He resigned as the MP for Outremont on January 28, 2007.

Early political career

Liberal

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 nationalist, he did not support Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's federalist view of One Canada [ [http://www.cbc.ca/news/viewpoint/vp_zolf/20040218.html LARRY ZOLF:Quebec lieutenants] ] , though he remained in caucus. Trudeau retired from politics in 1984 and was succeeded as Prime Minister and party leader by John Turner. Lapierre was appointed to cabinet as a junior minister and his tenure was brief as Turner called an election four 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 Leadserhip 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 on the first ballot and Lapierre left the party as a result.

Bloc Québécois

Upon leaving the Liberals, he helped to found the Bloc Québécois and served in their first caucus as a Member of Parliament (MP). During that time, some described him as a "a rousing and fervent supporter of Quebec separatism" [ [http://www.cbc.ca/news/viewpoint/vp_zolf/20040218.html CBC News LARRY ZOLF:Quebec lieutenants] ] , though the Bloc did not openly declare itself as a separatist party until 1992. In the 1993 federal election, he retired from politics for a time and abandoned his affiliation with the Bloc.

The Liberal Party refers to his membership in a "temporary ad hoc rainbow coalition", but otherwise ignores his stint with the Bloc Québécois. [ [http://calgarygrit.blogspot.com/2005/01/french-invasion-day-1-of-liberal.html CalgaryGrit The French Invasion] ] [ [http://www.plcq.ca/members_e.aspx?id=11 Liberal Party of Quebec page on Lapierre] ] Lapierre himself has maintained that he was never really a separatist and that he was the "red of the rainbow", saying that he wanted a level playing field for Quebec. [http://www.cbc.ca/news/story/2004/02/05/lapierre040205.html CBC News Former BQ MP appointed Martin's Quebec lieutenant]

Broadcaster

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 gave up his political ambitions and returned to politics soon after being promised a senior cabinet postFact|date=February 2007 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 lip style of politics", being known for his flamboyance, aggressiveness, his toughness, his rudeness and arrogance. [http://www.cbc.ca/news/viewpoint/vp_zolf/20040218.html]

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. [http://www.cbc.ca/news/viewpoint/vp_zolf/20040218.html]

Soon after his return to politics, Lapierre ridiculed the Clarity Act, which aims to set Canada's conditions for accepting the results of any future successful referendum on Quebec sovereignty. He described it as "useless" and said that if the province had a will to separate, such "tricks" would not stop it. However, this contradicted official party policy and Lapierre was criticized by both Liberals and outside observers, including Manitoba Premier Gary Doer. Some speculated that he had not given up on his separatist leanings, with critics speculating on which "flag of convenience he'll sail under next". [http://www.cbc.ca/news/viewpoint/vp_zolf/20040218.html] Prime Minister Martin, who had himself reluctantly supported the bill in 2000, said that he would not repeal the Clarity Act but argued that it would not matter since he and Lapierre would prevent a referendum from taking place. [http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2004/02/05/lapierre040205] [http://www.cbc.ca/news/story/2004/02/05/lapierre040205.html] .

Being guaranteed a Ministry and a safe seat as a star candidate, despite founding the Bloc and his open criticism of Jean Chrétien, generated controversy among federalists and contributed infighting within the party. There were allegations that Lapierre intervened in the nomination process for Quebec ridings, at Martin's bequest. Organizers were allegedly planning a challenge in the riding held by Clarity Act author Stéphane Dion. [http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20040216/doer_west_040215?s_name=&no_ads=] Stephen Hogue wanted to run to succeed Jean Chrétien but that was denied, supposedly to allow more women to run, while Warren Kinsella said that he would not vote Liberal because of riding controversies. Lapierre accused Hogue of not being a "loyal Liberal". [http://calgarygrit.blogspot.com/2004/05/jean-lapierre-have-you-ever-had-friend.html] At the time, however, this had little impact on the federal Liberals' record popularity where they were ahead not only in their traditional strongholds, but also Western Canada and Quebec, where the Chrétien government had never been able to make such inroads. Some pundits saw Martin's new cabinet as a much-needed change from Chrétien's ten-year tenure, so he could present a new government that could continue to appeal to the electorate.

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. [http://calgarygrit.blogspot.com/2004/05/jean-lapierre-have-you-ever-had-friend.html] Years afterwards, Lapierre compared the impact of the sponsorship scandal to getting hit by a Mack truck. [http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20061130/martin_tribute_061130/20061130?hub=CTVNewsAt11] When BQ 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". [http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/story.html?id=d91ee108-3d34-481e-af9f-d95700c527ce&k=1826]

Lapierre made several highly publicized gaffes during the campaign. After BQ leader Gilles 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". [http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/story.html?id=d91ee108-3d34-481e-af9f-d95700c527ce&k=1826] [http://www.cbc.ca/news/story/2005/12/05/elxn-duceppe-disappear.html] 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". [http://www.cbc.ca/news/story/2005/12/05/lapierre051205.html] 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". [http://www.nodice.ca/election2004/0529.html]

Late in the campaign, falling support for the Liberals led to his responsibilities being handed over to Stéphane Dion, a Jean Chrétien supporter and author of the Clarity Act.

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. [http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20050805_security_review_050804/?hub=CTVNewsAt11]

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.Clark, Campbell; Globe and Mail (December 23 2005), " [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20051223.wxpelle1223/BNStory/National/ Liberals fire Pelletier from railway - Again] ". Retrieved December 23 2005.] Justice Francois Lemieux ruled 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. [http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20071122/pelletier_court_071122/20071122?hub=CTVNewsAt11] 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. [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20071123.PELLETIER23/TPStory/National]

Lapierre and his department were criticised for their handling of the Jetsgo collapse. [http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&q=Lapierre+Jetsgo&btnG=Google+Search&meta=] 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. [http://www.theglobeandmail.com//servlet/story/RTGAM.20050315.wlapierre0315/BNStory/National]

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. [http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1118659699259_24/?hub=TopStories] [http://calgarygrit.blogspot.com/2005/06/cowardly-lion.html]

Opposition

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. [http://www.macleans.ca/topstories/national/article.jsp?article=2006_12_14_1166116020] 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.

Retirement

On January 11, 2007 Jean Lapierre announced that he was going to retire at the end of the month. [ [http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2007/01/11/lapierre-resignation.html CBC News Quebec Liberal MP Jean Lapierre will quit by month's end] ] 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. Starting in 2007, he will co-host a show with reporter Paul Larocque called Larocque-Lapierre [ [http://lcn.canoe.com/lcn/infos/national/collineparlementaire/archives/2007/01/20070111-174830.html Démission prochaine du libéral Jean Lapierre (French article)] ]

References


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