Gérard Pelletier died on June 22, 1997.
On June 22, 1997, Gérard Pelletier disappeared, a witness as well as an actor in Canadian social and political evolution. His action was characterized in particular by his commitment to the development of the French fact in Canada.
“Canada has just lost one of the defining figures of its recent history. Gérard Pelletier died this morning from cancer. »
— Céline Galipeau, June 23, 1997
It is with these sentences that the host of the TéléjournalCéline Galipeau announces, on June 23 1997, the death of Gérard Pelletier.
Biography of Gérard Pelletier by journalist Christine St-Pierre
The following biography, presented by journalist Christine St- Pierre, covers the main stages of Gérard Pelletier's life.
In 1947, he became a journalist for the daily Le Devoir.
In 1949, Gérard Pelletier covered for this newspaper the asbestos workers' strike in Asbestos.
He uses this platform to denounce the anti-union attitude of the government of Maurice Duplessis and the brutality of the police repression against the asbestos strikers.
In the 1950s, Gérard Pelletier published a series of resounding articles describing the situation of those who were called the orphans of Duplessis.
In these articles, Gérard Pelletier condemns the mistreatment inflicted, through negligence and prejudice, by the government of Maurice Duplessis on the wards of the State.
The publication of these articles constitutes an event milestone in the history of investigative journalism in Quebec.
From 1961 to 1965, Gérard Pelletier was editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper La Presse.
He was dismissed from office because the newspaper's management found him too sympathetic to the grievances of journalists when they went on strike in 1965.
Gérard Pelletier does not deny the information.
In 1965, journalist Gérard Pelletier began a new career in Ottawa.
Federal elections have just been announced.
Gérard Pelletier decides to enter the political arena with the Liberal Party of Canada led by Lester B. Pearson.
But he won't go there alone.
Alongside him are two fellow fighters: trade unionist Jean Marchand and law professor Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
The three men want in particular to ensure respect for the French-speaking populations hitherto ignored or under-represented in the Canadian federal apparatus.
In English Canada, they are nicknamed The French Power.
In Quebec, the columnist for the newspaper Le Devoir Claude Ryan calls them the three doves.
It is an appropriate name for those who have made it their mission to calm the often stormy relations between English Canada and French Canada.
In April 1968, Pierre Elliott Trudeau succeeded Lester B. Pearson as Prime Minister of Canada.
In July 1968, he appointed Gérard Pelletier Secretary of State of Canada and Minister of Communications.
The new minister then worked on the development, then the adoption in the Parliament of Canada, of an Official Languages Act.
This law will make French and English the two official languages of the country.
The legislative project is however complex and does not pass like a letter in the post in the public opinion in English Canada.
Journalists Louis Martin and Jean V. Dufresne interview Canadian Secretary of State Gérard Pelletier on the official languages bill.
On May 25, 1969, Gérard Pelletier was a guest on the show Deux plus un, hosted by journalists Louis Martin and Jean V. Dufresne .
During this interview, of which we present an excerpt, the Minister shows that he was attentive to the concerns of the opposition and the Canadian provinces regarding the possible application of the Official Languages Act.
Amendments have been adopted, recalls Gérard Pelletier, in particular to better protect the rights of Francophone minorities in urban areas. These amendments improved the scope of the bill.
The informed observer also points the tip of his nose when Gérard Pelletier analyzes the reasons for the reluctance of certain English-speaking provinces regarding the bilingualism proposed by his bill.
On October 20, 1975, Gérard Pelletier arrived at Charles-de-Gaulle airport.
He came to Paris as Canada's ambassador to the French Republic.
Unaired interview of journalist Jean Charpentier with Canadian Ambassador to France Gérard Pelletier
At the airport, he granted an interview to journalist Jean Charpentier, from the news service of Radio- Canada.
Listening to this interview, one can notice the treasures of diplomacy and hushed language that Gérard Pelletier must deploy in his new role.
The position of ambassador is essential in Canadian foreign policy.
Gérard Pelletier must defend Canada's interests and prerogatives with the French Republic.
However, there has long been a war, more or less hidden, between the Canadian Embassy and the General Delegation of Quebec in Paris, the diplomatic branch of the Government of Quebec in France, to constitute the main interlocutor of the French State.
The nuanced remarks of Gérard Pelletier show well the balancing act that he will have to deploy from 1975 to 1981 on French soil.
This experience will be very useful to him when he will be Canada's ambassador to the United Nations, from 1981 in 1984.
A discreet man, with a more retiring character than Jean Marchand and Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Gérard Pelletier left an important legacy to Canadian society and particularly to French-speaking Canadians.
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