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Former Quebec minister Benoît Pelletier is no longer

Photo: Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press Benoît Pelletier made the leap into “active politics” in 1998, becoming MP for Chapleau, in Outaouais, where he taught at the University of Ottawa, one of his alma maters.

Florence Morin-Martel

April 1, 2024

  • Quebec

The former minister of the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ), Benoît Pelletier, died last Saturday in Mexico, at the age of 64. Quebec's political class mourned Monday the death of a “generous” and “respected” man, who was also an eminent professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa.

In a press release published on the morning of April 1, his loved ones said they had “wonderful memories” of the deceased. “Beyond his extraordinary professional accomplishments, Benoît Pelletier is above all a caring husband, a devoted, funny, generous and attentive family man and a great lover of Quebec and the French language,” they underlined, without specifying the cause of death.

Mr. Pelletier was the MP for Chapleau, in Outaouais, from 1998 to 2008. During the victory of Jean Charest's Liberals in 2003, the constitutionalist was named Minister of Canadian Intergovernmental Relations. A position he held until his departure from political life, five years later.

Under the reign of Mr. Charest, he was also Minister of Indigenous Affairs, the Canadian Francophonie, the Reform of Democratic Institutions and Access to Information.

On the social network X, Jean Charest mourned the disappearance of Benoît Pelletier. “He played an essential role in strengthening Quebec’s status within Canada and abroad. He leaves an inestimable intellectual and political legacy,” he wrote.

“Erudite, great orator and always ready to help, he will remain a model for all of us,” added the interim leader of the PLQ, Marc Tanguay, on this same platform.

In turn, Quebec Prime Minister François Legault paid tribute to Mr. Pelletier on X. “He was brilliant, generous and courteous. He had Quebec and the defense of our language at heart. »

A “highly respected” minister

All of Mr. Pelletier's colleagues had immense respect for him, says Christine St-Pierre, a former Liberal elected official. “When he opened his mouth in the Council of Ministers, I can tell you that everyone listened to him,” recalls the woman who was notably at the head of the Ministry of Culture, from 2007 to 2012.

At the PLQ, Benoît Pelletier, among other things, chaired a Special Committee which led to the publication of a report on the political and constitutional future of Quebec society, in 2001. The document then served as platform of the Liberal Party of Quebec on these issues.

In the eyes of Ms. St-Pierre, one of Benoît Pelletier’s greatest legacies stems from this report. This concerns the creation of the Council of the Federation in 2003. This institution aims to bring together the provinces against the central power of Ottawa.

Mr. Pelletier's document published in 2001 also suggested establishing a Center for the Francophonie of the Americas, which was done in 2008. “It was his baby, he was very keen on it”, underlines Christine St-Pierre, regarding the Quebec government agency.

Throughout his life, Benoît Pelletier campaigned for the advancement of the French language, raises the liberal elected official from Pontiac, André Fortin. “He is someone who has always had in mind the place of Francophones within Canada,” he adds.

Mr. Pelletier also showed “courage” during his years in politics, believes Hélène David, who was a PLQ MP from 2014 to 2022. “He brought a lot to Quebec. He was a very federalist nationalist,” she maintains in an interview. He was particularly in favor of the adoption of a Quebec constitution.

A mentor for many

Even after leaving the National Assembly in 2008, Benoît Pelletier continued to provide advice to those who needed it, notes Christine St-Pierre. “He never looked down on the person in front of him. He was always attentive to the questions we could ask. »

He notably played a mentoring role with Hélène David in matters of constitutional law. This help was invaluable to her in the study of Bill 96, while she was in opposition. The CAQ legislative text, which was adopted in May 2022, reformed, among other things, the Charter of the French language. “In the beginning, I'll tell you honestly, I came from psychology, so it wasn't exactly my background. Benoît was immensely patient, but above all very kind,” she relates.

Mr. Pelletier was a “very good teacher”, underlines Christine St-Pierre in turn. He first obtained a law degree from Laval University in 1981, then a master's degree from the University of Ottawa in 1989. It was in the latter establishment that he began teaching in the 1990s , then was named assistant dean of the faculty from 1996 until his jump into politics.

After announcing that he would not seek a new mandate, Benoît Pelletier returned to the practice of law and teaching in 2009 at the Faculty of Law of the University of Ottawa.

His many achievements earned him several distinctions during his life. He was notably made an officer of the National Order of Quebec in 2014 and a member of the Order of Canada in 2016. In May 2022, the Medal of Honor of the National Assembly was awarded to him.

With The Canadian Press

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116