Former Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau passed away yesterday following a long illness. He was 84.
An economist by trade, Parizeau would be a key figure in developing the Quebec Pension Plan and the nationalization of Hydro Quebec. Rene Levesque would name him Minister of Finance after the Parti Quebecois' election victory in 1976. Parizeau would have a falling out with Levesque in 1984 when he and several other cabinet ministers believed that Levesque had gone soft on independence following the loss in the 1980 Quebec Referendum and the establishment of the Canadian Constitution in 1982. Parizeau would become PQ leader in 1989 and would be elected Premier in 1994.
Parizeau was in office during the second Quebec referendum in 1995. After initially leading the Yes campaign, he took a back seat to the more charismatic Bloc Quebecois leader Lucien Bouchard who had survived flesh eating disease nearly a year earlier. Bouchard galvanized the Yes forces and came within a few thousand votes of separating from Canada.