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Jacques Parizeau
Jacques Parizeau BAnQ P243S1D5069.jpg
Parizeau in 1976
26th Premier of Quebec
In office
September 26, 1994 – January 29, 1996
Monarch Elizabeth II
Lieutenant Governor Martial Asselin
Deputy Bernard Landry
Preceded by Daniel Johnson Jr.
Succeeded by Lucien Bouchard
Leader of the Opposition of Quebec
In office
September 25, 1989 – September 26, 1994
Premier Robert Bourassa
Daniel Johnson Jr.
Preceded by Guy Chevrette
Succeeded by Daniel Johnson Jr.
President of the Parti Québécois
In office
March 18, 1988 – January 27, 1996
Preceded by Guy Chevrette (interim)
Succeeded by Lucien Bouchard
Minister of Finance
In office
November 26, 1976 – November 27, 1984
Premier René Lévesque
Preceded by Raymond Garneau
Succeeded by Yves Duhaime
Personal details
Born (1930-08-09)August 9, 1930
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Died June 1, 2015(2015-06-01) (aged 84)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Political party Parti Québécois
  • Alice Poznanska
    (m. 1956; died 1990)
  • Lisette Lapointe
Alma mater
Profession Economist

Jacques Parizeau GOQ ( August 9, 1930 – June 1, 2015) was a Canadian politician and Québécois economist who was a noted Quebec sovereigntist and the 26th premier of Quebec from September 26, 1994, to January 29, 1996.

Early life and career

Parizeau was born in Montreal, Quebec, the son of Germaine (née Biron) and Gérard Parizeau, from a family of wealth and privilege. Gérard Parizeau built one of Quebec’s great fortunes and one of the province’s largest financial firms from a brokerage he established in the 1930s. Jacques' great-grandfather was a founder of the Montreal Chambre de Commerce and his grandfather was a doctor of renown and a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur.

As a teenager, Parizeau had radical views and distributed leaflets for Communist Fred Rose's election campaigns. While sympathetic to the Labor-Progressive Party he never joined.

His parents supported bilingualism and sent him to English summer camp. He attended Collège Stanislas, a Roman Catholic private school. He went on to graduate with a PhD from the London School of Economics in London, England, as well as degrees at HEC Montréal, Paris Institute of Political Studies and Faculté de droit de Paris. Because of a prior commitment to return to instruct at HEC, he left England, where career opportunities were offered in British academia. He served an internship with the Bank of Canada in Ottawa, and directed his brightest students to Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario for postgraduate studies.

Parizeau's predilection for three-piece, Savile Row suits, and proper manner of speaking French and English, earned him the nickname "Monsieur".

A believer in economic interventionism, he was one of the most important advisors to the provincial government during the 1960s, playing an important behind-the-scenes role in the Quiet Revolution. He was especially instrumental in the nationalization of Hydro-Québec (a hydro-electric utility) in 1962-1963, the nationalization of the Asbestos Corporation Limited mines in 1982, and worked with Eric Kierans to create the Quebec Pension Plan in 1963-1966.

Parizeau gradually became a committed sovereigntist, and officially joined the Parti Québécois (PQ) on September 19, 1969. In 1970, he became the president of the PQ’s executive council until 1973.

After the PQ was elected to office in the 1976 provincial election, which saw Parizeau elected in the district of L'Assomption, the new premier, René Lévesque, appointed him as Minister of Finance. Parizeau played an important role in the 1980 Quebec referendum campaign in favour of the government's proposals for sovereignty-association.

Jacques Parizeau ministre 2
Parizeau at a 1981 conference at Laval University

As Minister of Finance in Quebec, he was responsible for a number of innovative economic proposals, including the Quebec Stock Savings Plan ("QSSP") and the Fonds de solidarité (Solidarity Fund) FTQ in 1983. As of May 2020, the latter's net assets were $13.8 billion.

Married to Polish immigrant Alice Poznanska (1930–1990). Jacques Parizeau was criticized for supporting the Charter of the French Language. This law limits access to English-language public schools to children whose parents didn't receive their education in English in Canada, and was generally opposed by the English-speaking minority.

Elections, 1995 referendum and aftermath

In the 1989 election, Parizeau's first as PQ leader, his party did not fare well. But five years later, in the 1994 election, it won a majority government. Parizeau promised to hold a referendum on Quebec sovereignty within a year of his election, and despite many objections, he followed through on this promise. In the beginning, support for sovereignty was only about 40% in the public opinion polls. As the campaign wore on, however, support for the "Yes" side grew larger. This growth halted, however, and Parizeau came under pressure to hand more of the campaign over to the more moderate and conservative Lucien Bouchard, the popular leader of the federal Bloc Québécois party. Parizeau agreed and as the campaign progressed he lost his leadership role to Bouchard.

The "Yes" side would lose the referendum by 55,000 votes. He resigned as PQ leader and Quebec premier the next day. He was replaced by Lucien Bouchard as PQ leader and Quebec premier on January 29, 1996.

Parizeau retired to private life, but continued to make comments critical of Bouchard's new government and its failure to press the cause of Quebec independence. He owned an estate at his vineyard in France, a farm in the Eastern Townships of Quebec and a home in Montreal. His biographer is Pierre Duchesne.

In June 2008, along with the other four living former Premiers of Quebec, Parizeau was named a Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec by Premier Jean Charest.


In a social media posting, Parizeau's wife announced his death after five months of hospitalization, on June 1, 2015. He was 84.

His state funeral mass was held at Saint-Germain d’Outremont Roman Catholic church, the Parizeau family parish.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Jacques Parizeau para niños

  • Politics of Quebec
  • List of Quebec premiers
  • Timeline of Quebec history
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