Guy Tardif

Guy Tardif (May 30, 1935 – May 24, 2005) was a politician in the Canadian province of Quebec. He was a Parti Québécois member of the National Assembly of Quebec from 1976 to 1985 and was a cabinet minister in the governments of René Lévesque and Pierre-Marc Johnson. He is the grandfather of Kansas City Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.

Early life and career

Tardif was born in Montreal, received his early education in that city, and later studied at the University of Ottawa and the Université de Montréal. He was a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer from 1955 to 1960 and was a lecturer and administrative assistant for the Montreal Police Service from 1963 to 1970.

He received a master's degree in criminology in 1966 and earned a Ph.D. from the Université de Montréal in 1974 for a thesis submission entitled Police et politique au Québec. Tardif also wrote several articles on police and prison issues and was a consultant for various government departments and commissions before launching his own career in politics.[1]

Legislator and cabinet minister

Municipal affairs minister

Tardif was elected to the Quebec legislature in the 1976 provincial election, defeating one-term Liberal incumbent Jean Bienvenue in the Montreal division of Crémazie as the Parti Québécois won a historic majority government across the province. He was appointed to René Lévesque's first cabinet as minister of municipal affairs on November 26, 1976.

In 1978, Tardif and André Ouellet, the urban affairs minister in Pierre Trudeau's federal cabinet, engaged in a public dispute as to which level of government was responsible for delays in proceeding with planned housing construction.[2] The journalist William Johnson argued in a The Globe and Mail editorial that the Quebec Housing Corporation was at fault, notwithstanding Tardif's statements to the contrary.[3] Tardif had a better relationship with Ouellet's successor Elmer MacKay, who was a member of Joe Clark's short-lived government in 1979–80.[4]

Tardif ended a provincial trusteeship over the Montreal suburb of St. Leonard in 1979. The trusteeship had been imposed by the previous Liberal government in 1975, following allegations of municipal corruption.[5] He also allowed the town of Buckingham, which had been merged into a single entity by the previous government, to dissolve itself into four distinct municipalities following a referendum.[6]

Notwithstanding his criticism of Tardif in other respects, William Johnson also credited him with "[taking] the politics out of municipal financing by establishing formula grants."[7]

Minister of planning and housing

Lévesque shuffled his cabinet on November 6, 1980, and appointed Tardif as the minister of state responsible for planning and the minister responsible for housing.[8]

In December 1980, Tardif was forced to defend his hiring of Luc Cyr, two years earlier, to oversee a program of repairs for low-rent housing. Cyr, an associate of PQ organizers, later put his son and brother-in-law on the payroll; the president of the housing corporation overturned this arrangement once he discovered it.[9] Tardif defended Cyr's appointment, saying that it was normal for such contracts not to go to tender because of the difficulties in predicting expenses. He added the government had cancelled the contract in September 1980 once officials had identified irregularities.[10] This notwithstanding, Tardif responded to criticisms by convening a legislative committee to investigate charges of nepotism and patronage within the corporation.[11]

Minister of housing and consumer affairs

During the 1981 provincial election, Tardif joined Premier Lévesque to promise a new housing loan program that would provide financial benefits to homeowners with one or more young children.[12] He was narrowly re-elected in Crémazie as the PQ won a second majority across the province. After a cabinet shuffle on April 30, 1981, he retained his position as the minister responsible for housing and was given additional responsibilities as the minister responsible for consumer protection. On June 18, after enabling legislation was passed, he was officially styled as minister of housing and minister of consumer protection.[13]

Tardif introduced the government's promised housing loan program, in a somewhat modified form, in August 1981.[14] The opposition Liberals charged that the amended legislation did not adequately protect homeowners affected by high mortgage rates.[15]

As consumer affairs minister, Tardif was once again in regular contact with André Ouellet, who by this time was the minister of consumer and corporate affairs in the re-elected government of Pierre Trudeau. In September 1981, he criticized Ouellet's plan to strengthen the competition laws that protected consumers and small businesses. Tardif said that he did not object to the intention of the bill, but argued that the matter fell under Quebec's jurisdiction rather than that of the federal government.[16]

In 1982, Tardif expressed the PQ government's opposition to any transfer of flights from Dorval International Airport in Montreal to Mirabel International Airport outside of the city. He argued that the change, if imposed by the federal government, would have a devastating impact on Quebec's economy.[17]

During the same period, Tardif convinced construction unions to make concessions and contractors to accept lower profits in order to construct fifty thousand units of low-income housing in a project called Corvée-Habitation. Many years later, PQ leader Bernard Landry cited the project as one of Tardif's greatest accomplishments.[18]

1984 PQ crisis

In 1984, the Parti Québécois went through an internal crisis over the nature of its support for Quebec sovereignty. Some leading party figures, including René Lévesque, wanted to moderate the party's position, while others favoured a more hardline indépendantiste approach. Tardif was initially seen as close to the latter group; in early November 1984, he joined twelve other cabinet ministers in signing a manifesto that called for the party to re-affirm its commitment to Quebec independence.[19] However, when several indépendantiste ministers quit the government later in the month, Tardif did not join them.

Lévesque shuffled his cabinet after the indépendantiste resignations and appointed Tardif as transport minister on November 27, 1984.

Transport minister

In April 1985, Tardif said that a provincial agency had purchased a twenty-two per cent interest in the Montreal-based airline Nordair. He added that his government's plan was to facilitate a merger of Nordair and Quebecair, a French-language firm owned by the same provincial agency.[20] The company that owned a controlling interest in Nordair responded that it was opposed to the purchase, and would fight it.[21]

Tardif also announced in August 1985 that Quebec was ending its freeway tolls, after twenty-one years of paying off the original cost of Montreal's four-lane highways.[22]

In the fall of 1985, Tardif asked Velo Quebec to organize a cycling tour on new paths in the city's east end. The resulting event eventually became known as the Tour de l'ile de Montreal; in later years, it became the largest participatory cycling tour in the world.[23]

Johnson ministry

René Lévesque announced his resignation as premier of Quebec and Parti Québécois leader in June 1985. There was some speculation that Tardif would be a candidate in the race to succeed him, but this did not occur.[24] Tardif initially supported Bernard Landry's candidacy, and then declined to back another candidate after Landry withdrew from the contest.[25] Pierre-Marc Johnson succeeded Lévesque in October 1985 and kept Tardif in the transport portfolio when he announced his cabinet.[26] In early November, he reached a deal with the federal government to re-open Quebec City's downtown rail line.[27]

Tardif was defeated in the 1985 provincial election, as the Liberal Party was elected with a majority government across the province. He resigned from cabinet with the rest of the Johnson ministry on December 12, 1985.[1]

Graham Fraser has written Tardif was known for his "ferocious work habits" during his time in government, sometimes calling civil servants during the night to discuss office matters.[28]

After politics

Tardif co-founded a company called Le Clos Saint-Denis in 1989, operating a fruit orchard and vineyard. In 1999, he introduced a new brand of ice cider called Pommes de Glace.[29] He also returned to academia in 1989, teaching criminology at the Université de Montréal.[1] The Civic Party of Montreal tried to draft Tardif as a possible mayoral candidate in the 1990 municipal election, but he declined.[30]

He died on May 24, 2005, of pleural mesothelioma, which was apparently caused by asbestos inhalation many years earlier.[18]

Electoral record

1985 Quebec general election: Crémazie
Party Candidate Votes%
LiberalAndré Vallerand16,11549.89
Parti QuébécoisGuy Tardif14,56045.08
New DemocraticPierre Leduc7652.37
Parti indépendantisteLouise Crépel2760.85
Progressive ConservativeLaurence Lemyre2330.72
IndependentCarole Caron2110.65
Commonwealth of CanadaChristiane Deland780.24
Christian SocialistYvan Lauzon620.19
Total valid votes 32,300
Rejected and declined votes 596
Turnout 32,896 80.03
Electors on the lists 41,105
1981 Quebec general election: Crémazie
Party Candidate Votes%±%
Parti QuébécoisGuy Tardif16,93851.46
LiberalGilles Perron15,35546.65
Union NationaleRicher M. Francoeur5451.66
Marxist–LeninistCarolyn Zapf800.24
Total valid votes 32,918 100.00
Rejected and declined votes 366
Turnout 33,284 85.85
Electors on the lists 38,768
1976 Quebec general election: Crémazie
Party Candidate Votes%±%
Parti QuébécoisGuy Tardif16,46350.40
LiberalJean Bienvenue11,85136.28
Union NationaleMaurice L'Écuyer3,44910.56
Ralliement créditisteLéopold Mercier4611.41
Parti national populaireGilles Legault2770.85
CommunistClaire da Sylva Demers830.25
  coalition NPDQ - RMS André Lavallée 80 0.24
Total valid votes 32,664 100.00
Rejected and declined votes 561
Turnout 33,225 89.09
Electors on the lists 37,293
  • "Biography". Dictionnaire des parlementaires du Québec de 1792 à nos jours (in French). National Assembly of Quebec.


  1. "Biography". Dictionnaire des parlementaires du Québec de 1792 à nos jours (in French). National Assembly of Quebec.
  2. William Johnson, "Conference used to catch votes, Levesque says," The Globe and Mail, 16 February 1978, p. 1.
  3. William Johnson, "View from Quebec," The Globe and Mail, 20 February 1978, p. 8.
  4. "Clark postpones constitutional talks," The Globe and Mail, 19 July 1979, p. 8.
  5. "Quebec lifting ...", The Globe and Mail, 22 December 1978, p. 4.
  6. Henry Aubin, "PQ betrays its past: Two decades ago, Levesque undid Bourassa's mergers in the Outaouais," Montreal Gazette, 17 September 2001, B3.
  7. William Johnson, "Cautious Cabinet moves pick up a good pair," The Globe and Mail, 7 November 1980, p. 8.
  8. "2 ministers gone in PQ Cabinet shuffle," The Globe and Mail, 7 September 1980, p. 11.
  9. Graham Fraser, PQ: René Lévesque and the Parti Québécois in Power, Toronto: MacMillan of Canada, 1984, p. 261.
  10. Margot Gibb-Clark, "PQ denies patronage charges over repairs to public housing," 8 December 1980, p. 9; "Quebec Assembly torn by charges of payoffs," The Globe and Mail, 18 December 1980, p. 11.
  11. "PQ agrees to review charge of QHC patronage," The Globe and Mail, 11 December 1980, N8.
  12. Margot Gibb-Clark, "PQ housing scheme rewards childbirth," The Globe and Mail, 21 March 1981, p. 1.
  13. Fraser, PQ, p. 382.
  14. "Quebec planning to cut election housing pledge," The Globe and Mail, 6 August 1981, B2.
  15. "Ryan to stress use of Hydro's money in criticism of PQ," The Globe and Mail, 22 August 1981, N4.
  16. "Ontario, Quebec oppose federal anti-combines plans," The Globe and Mail, 5 September 1981, B6.
  17. "Quebec opposes switch of Dorval flights," The Globe and Mail, 6 March 1982, p. 15.
  18. Irwin Block, "Man of many careers was PQ cabinet minister: Guy Tardif 'showed determination in everything he undertook'," Montreal Gazette, 29 May 2005, D7.
  19. "PQ hard-liner reaffirms policy after signing compromise pact," The Globe and Mail, 13 November 1984, N3.
  20. "Nordair stake," The Globe and Mail, 27 April 1985, B2.
  21. "Principal Nordair shareholder to fight Quebec stock purchase," The Globe and Mail, 29 April 1985, p. 5. See also Robert Gibbens, "Quebecair makes cash bid for profit-making Nordair," The Globe and Mail, 21 September 1985, B4.
  22. "$80 million paid off; tolls on freeways end for Quebeckers," The Globe and Mail, 28 August 1985, p. 5.
  23. Sylvie Dupuis, "Thousands ride in rain to inaugurate bike path," Montreal Gazette, 15 October 1985, A3; Dave Stubbs, "World's largest cycling event will be transforming the city," Montreal Gazette, 7 June 1991, D7.
  24. "Johnson seems voters' choice in impending succession race," The Globe and Mail, 22 June 1985, p. 12.
  25. Lewis Harris, "Johnson says he's undecided about pursuing PQ leadership," Montreal Gazette, 28 June 1985, A4.
  26. "Premier responsible for second portfolio," The Globe and Mail, 17 October 1985, A5.
  27. Robert McKenzie, "PQ applauds $5.8 million in federal aid," Toronto Star, 9 November 1985, A3.
  28. Fraser, PQ, p. 247.
  29. Bill Zacharkiw, "A new era for cider," Montreal Gazette, 15 September 2007, H1.
  30. Lewis Harris, "Civic Party to elect leader in April; Winner will automatically be candidate for mayor," Montreal Gazette, 24 January 1990, A3.
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