Jacques Léonard

Jacques Léonard (born December 2, 1936) is a Canadian accountant, educator, and politician in the province of Quebec. He served in the National Assembly of Quebec from 1976 to 1985 and again from 1989 to 2001 and was a cabinet minister in the governments of René Lévesque, Jacques Parizeau, and Lucien Bouchard. Léonard is a Quebec sovereigntist and a member of the Parti Québécois (PQ) and Bloc Québécois (BQ).

Jacques Léonard
President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Administration and the Public Service
Also styled as Minister of State for Administration and the Public Service after December 15, 1998.
In office
November 3, 1995  March 8, 2001
Preceded byPauline Marois
Succeeded bySylvain Simard
Minister of Transport
In office
March 5, 1984  November 22, 1984
Preceded byMichel Clair
Succeeded byGuy Tardif
In office
September 26, 1994  November 3, 1995
Preceded byNormand Cherry
Succeeded byJean Campeau
Vice-President of the Treasury Board
In office
March 2, 1978  November 6, 1980
Preceded byDenis de Belleval
Succeeded byDenis Vaugeois
In office
September 26, 1994  November 3, 1995
Preceded byJean Leclerc
Succeeded byJacques Brassard
Minister responsible for the Laurentides
In office
January 29, 1996  March 8, 2001
Preceded byHélène Robert[1]
Succeeded byFrançois Legault
Minister of Municipal Affairs
In office
November 6, 1980  March 5, 1984
Preceded byGuy Tardif
Succeeded byAlain Marcoux
Minister of State for Planning
In office
November 26, 1976  November 6, 1980
Preceded byposition created
Succeeded byGuy Tardif
Member of the National Assembly of Quebec for Labelle
(known as Laurentides-Labelle before 1981)
In office
1976  May 23, 1985
Preceded byRoger Lapointe
Succeeded byDamien Hétu
In office
1989  March 8, 2001
Preceded byDamien Hétu
Succeeded bySylvain Pagé
Personal details
Born (1936-12-02) December 2, 1936
Saint-Jovite, Quebec, Canada
Political partyParti Québécois
Alma materUniversité Laval

Early life and career

Léonard was born in Saint-Jovite, in the Laurentides region of Quebec. He received a diploma in accountancy in 1959 and a master's degree in commercial sciences from the Université Laval in 1962. After working for two years in the Montreal firm of Clarkson and Gordon, he continued his studies in Paris, France, from 1964 to 1966. Léonard taught at the École des hautes études commerciales and the Université national du Rwanda from 1966 to 1968, at which time he returned to Quebec. From 1968 to 1976, he was a professor and vice-dean of education at the Université de Montréal.[2]

Léonard became a member of the sovereigntist Rassemblement pour l'Indépendance Nationale in 1962 and joined the Parti Québécois after the former party wound down in 1968.[3] He ran unsuccessfully as a PQ candidate in Labelle in the 1970 and 1973 provincial elections. The PQ won a historic majority government in the 1976 provincial election, and Léonard was elected on his third attempt in Labelle over one-term Liberal incumbent Roger Lapointe.

Legislator (1976–85)

Cabinet minister (1976–84)


Léonard was named to René Lévesque's first cabinet on November 26, 1976, as the minister of state responsible for planning.[4] This was intended as one of five "superministry" portfolios in the cabinet; Léonard was entrusted with working on long-term strategy for land use rather than having the day-to-day administrative duties of a department. On March 2, 1978, he was also named as vice-president of the treasury board.[5]

In May 1979, Léonard was a signatory to a deal that saw the governments of Quebec and Canada invest one hundred and fifty million dollars in Quebec's pulp and paper industry.[6]

Municipal affairs

Léonard was reassigned as municipal affairs minister on November 6, 1980, exchanging portfolios with Guy Tardif.[7] Shortly after his appointment, he ordered the municipal government of Aylmer to focus on basic administration after receiving a troubling audit of the city's finances.[8]

In 1981, a representative of Montreal's municipal government requested that the Lévesque government impose a freeze on the construction of shopping centres, arguing that they often destroy traditional city centres. Léonard responded that he was reluctant to intervene, particularly as municipalities already had the power to impose a freeze themselves.[9]

Léonard was re-elected in the 1981 general election, in which the Lévesque government was returned with a second consecutive majority, and was kept in the municipal affairs portfolio.[10] He sought to restructure Montreal's municipal government in 1982, giving the smaller suburban communities more power in relation to the city. He faced opposition to this measure from long-standing Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau, whose power was threatened by the reform.[11]

In 1983, Léonard attempted to pass legislation permitting the Quebec government to withhold funds from municipalities that accept federal money for job creation purposes.[12] This bill was blocked in the legislature in December 1983, after the opposition Liberal Party threatened a filibuster.[13] The Union des Municipalités du Québec also strongly opposed the measure, and discussions between the two levels of government reached an impasse in early 1984.[14] After Léonard was moved to a different portfolio, the Lévesque government abandoned the legislation.[15]


Léonard was shifted to the position of transport minister on March 5, 1984.[16] Two months later, he said that the Quebec government would not make a bid for Nordair (which was then being sold by the federal government) but would oppose any deal under which the company would leave the province.[17]

Opposition member (1984–85)

In late 1984, the Parti Québécois went through an internal crisis over Premier Lévesque's intention to de-emphasize Quebec sovereignty in the next provincial election. Léonard sided with the hardline indépendantiste wing of the party and resigned from cabinet on November 22.[18] Five days later, he left the PQ caucus to sit as an independent member of the assembly.[19] From the opposition benches, he demanded that Lévesque not make any constitutional agreement with Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney that would result in a weakening of Quebec's Charter of the French Language.[20]

In early 1985, Léonard joined an informal grouping of former PQ MNAs centered around the newly formed Rassemblement démocratique pour l'indépendance.[21] He resigned his seat on May 23, 1985, to become dean of the faculty of education at the Université de Montréal, a position he held until his return to politics in 1989.[2][22]

Legislator (1989–2001)

Opposition member (1989–94)

Léonard returned to the Parti Québécois after Jacques Parizeau, a fellow indépendantiste and former cabinet colleague, became party leader in 1988. He was re-elected to the Quebec legislature in the 1989 provincial election over Liberal incumbent Damien Hétu, who had been elected in Labelle in 1985.[23] The Liberals won a majority government provincially under Robert Bourassa's leadership, and Léonard re-entered the legislature as a member of the official opposition. For the next five years, he served as his party's finance critic. In 1993, he accused the Bourassa government of taking a laissez-faire approach to the economy and of having no overall vision.[24]

Cabinet minister (1994–2001)

Transport minister

The Parti Québécois won a majority government under Parizeau's leadership in the 1994 general election. Léonard was re-elected to the legislature and rejoined cabinet on September 26, 1994, as minister of transport, ironically the same position he had resigned from ten years earlier.[25] He was also appointed to a second term as vice-president of the treasury board.

After his appointment, Léonard argued that highways are an exclusively provincial jurisdiction and tried to postpone the government of Canada's planned national highway program.[26] He announced increased penalties for persons driving under the influence of alcohol in 1995 and introduced legislation to require photographs on Quebec driving licenses.[27] He also expressed scepticism about mandatory helmet laws for cyclists, saying that safety education was a better approach.[28]

In early 1995, Léonard and industry minister Daniel Paillé announced a proposal to save the financially troubled MIL Davie Inc. shipyard with a ferry construction contract. Later in the year, he announced that the Parizeau government had no choice but to drop the plan on the grounds it had become too expensive and complex.[29] Following protests from the shipyard workers, the government reversed itself a second time and agreed to a modified sixty-six million dollar construction program over two years.[30]

Treasury Board president

Parizeau announced his resignation as premier after the sovereignty option's narrow defeat in the 1995 Quebec referendum. On November 3, 1995, while still leading a caretaker administration, he shuffled his cabinet and named Léonard as president of the treasury board and minister responsible for administration and the public service.[31] In the following months, Parizeau, Léonard, and finance minister Pauline Marois worked in committee reviewing government expenses and revenues in a bid to reduce public spending.[32]

Léonard was kept in the treasury board portfolio when Lucien Bouchard succeeded Parizeau as premier on January 29, 1996. He was also named to the priorities committee, an "inner cabinet" with significant control over the government's direction, and was named as minister responsible for the Laurentides.[33] Over the next two years, he played a central role in the Bouchard government's ultimately successful effort to eliminate the provincial deficit.

He announced several austerity measures in March 1996, making significant spending cuts in areas such as health, education, and social assistance; the total cuts for the fiscal year amounted to $2.2 billion. In announcing these measures, Léonard said, "We have fallen behind other Canadian provinces in cleaning up public finances. Quebec must act now."[34] He also expressed scepticism about proposed pay equity legislation later in 1996, arguing that it would put a strain on public-sector spending.[35]

In late 1996, Léonard announced that the Bouchard government would try to achieve $1.4 billion in savings from Quebec's public-sector unions, to be achieved by unfreezing pension reserve funds rather than by taking measures that would result in significant job losses.[36] The unions responded with a plan that focused on early retirement and employee buyouts.[37] Negotiations continued into 1997.[38]

Léonard introduced more severe funding cuts, amounting to $2.3 billion, in March 1997. At the same time, however, he noted that the Quebec's financial situation was improving and that no comparable cuts would be needed in the future.[39] He also argued that the Bouchard government's austerity plan would benefit Quebec sovereignty in the long term, saying "once Quebec is much more financially solid, Quebecers will look at the future with much more confidence in themselves and their state."[40] Ultimately, an unexpectedly high rate of voluntary retirement in the public sector allowed the government to reach its goals without difficulty.[41] Léonard announced further cuts of one billion dollars in 1998 and noted that the province would be out of debt the following year.[42]

Re-elected in the 1998 general election, Léonard was kept in the treasury board portfolio in Bouchard's post-election cabinet shuffle. In January 1999, he began a new round of negotiations with public-sector workers on collective agreements. After protracted discussions, the two sides agreed on a nine per cent wage increase over four years.[43]

After years of cutbacks, Léonard projected a $1.1 billion budget surplus in March 1999 and announced new public spending in areas such as health, education, and information technology.[44] He also introduced new hiring in the public service, with a particular focus on minority communities.[45] The same financial trend continued the following year, and Léonard introduced more new program funding in 2000.[46]

Lucien Bouchard resigned as premier on March 8, 2001, and was succeeded by Bernard Landry. Léonard used the occasion to announce his own resignation from both cabinet and the legislature, saying "You are witnessing a changing of the guard. My decision will allow one more young person to be promoted to cabinet."[47] He returned to accountancy work and, in 2002, became a professor of political science at the Université du Québec à Montréal.[2] He joined the board of governors of the Conseil de la Souveraineté du Québec in early 2003.[48]

Federal politics

In 2003–04, Léonard led a Bloc Québécois review of Canadian federal spending practices. He concluded that there had been sharp increases in some areas, including opinion polls, office furniture, and the office of the privacy commissioner of Canada.[49]

Léonard ran as a Bloc Québécois candidate in the Montreal division of Outremont in the 2006 federal election and finished a close second against incumbent Liberal cabinet minister Jean Lapierre. Léonard later served as the Bloc's vice-president and worked on the party's campaign in the 2008 federal election.[50]

Electoral record

2006 Canadian federal election: Outremont
Party Candidate Votes%±%Expenditures
LiberalJean Lapierre14,28235.18−5.76$69,816
Bloc QuébécoisJacques Léonard11,77829.01−4.24$63,590
New DemocraticLéo-Paul Lauzon6,98417.20+3.14$26,625
ConservativeDaniel Fournier5,16812.73+6.76$73,991
GreenFrançois Pilon1,9574.82+0.53$425
     Independent Eric Roach Denis 101 0.25 $431
     Progressive Canadian Philip Paynter 94 0.23 none listed
Marxist–LeninistLinda Sullivan880.22−0.09none listed
     Independent Yan Lacombe 85 0.21 none listed
     Independent Xavier Rochon 34 0.08 $572
     Independent Régent Millette 22 0.05 none listed
Total valid votes 40,593100.00
Total rejected ballots 2820.69
Turnout 40,87560.78−4.65
Electors on the lists 67,253

Sources: Official Results, Elections Canada and Financial Returns, Elections Canada.

1998 Quebec general election: Labelle
Party Candidate Votes%±%
Parti QuébécoisJacques Léonard17,02358.61−7.17
LiberalRaymond Laporte9,02431.07−0.61
Action démocratiquePierre Gauthier2,7819.57
  Socialist Democracy Nicole Vallée 218 0.75
Total valid votes 29,046 100.00
Rejected and declined votes 397
Turnout 29,443 76.01 −2.26
Electors on the lists 38,734

Source: Official Results, Le Directeur général des élections du Québec.

1994 Quebec general election: Labelle
Party Candidate Votes%±%
Parti QuébécoisJacques Léonard17,63865.78
LiberalMarcel Lafleur8,49431.68
LemonBruno Fortier3421.28
Natural LawMichele Turbide3401.27
Total valid votes 26,814 100.00
Rejected and declined votes 566
Turnout 27,380 78.27
Electors on the lists 34,980

Source: Official Results, Le Directeur général des élections du Québec.

1989 Quebec general election: Labelle
Party Candidate Votes%±%
Parti QuébécoisJacques Léonard16,89754.80
LiberalDamien Hétu13,93845.20
Total valid votes 30,835 100.00
Rejected and declined votes 971
Turnout 31,806 74.07
Electors on the lists 42,938

Source: Official Results, Le Directeur général des élections du Québec.

1981 Quebec general election: Labelle
Party Candidate Votes%±%
Parti QuébécoisJacques Léonard17,59657.70
LiberalDamien Hétu11,82238.76
Union NationaleRoger Labonté1,0793.54
Total valid votes 30,497 100.00
Rejected and declined votes 246
Turnout 30,743 79.93
Electors on the lists 38,460

Source: Official Results, Le Directeur général des élections du Québec.

1976 Quebec general election: Laurentides—Labelle
Party Candidate Votes%±%
Parti QuébécoisJacques Léonard13,79449.25+17.48
LiberalRoger Lapointe9,72534.72−7.01
Union NationaleLaurent Jetté2,99210.68−1.27
Ralliement créditisteAntonio Lemire1,4995.35−9.20
Total valid votes 28,010 100.00
Rejected and declined votes 374
Turnout 28,384 83.32 +2.62
Electors on the lists 34,066

Source: Official Results, Le Directeur général des élections du Québec.

1973 Quebec general election: Laurentides—Labelle
Party Candidate Votes%
LiberalRoger Lapointe10,00041.73
Parti QuébécoisJacques Léonard7,61231.77
Ralliement créditisteJean-Guy Sabourin3,48614.55
Union NationaleFernand Lafontaine2,86411.95
Total valid votes 23,962 100.00
Rejected and declined votes 275
Turnout 24,237 80.70
Electors on the lists 30,035

Source: Official Results, Le Directeur général des élections du Québec.

1970 Quebec general election: Labelle
Party Candidate Votes%
Union NationaleFernand Lafontaine6,26346.41
LiberalBenoît Robidoux2,92221.65
Parti QuébécoisJacques Léonard2,72420.19
Ralliement créditisteEugène Caraghiaur1,58511.75
Total valid votes 13,494
Rejected and declined votes 134
Turnout 13,628 84.83
Electors on the lists 16,066

Source: Official Results, Le Directeur général des élections du Québec.


  1. Hélène Robert was designated as the regional delegate for the Laurentides in the government of Jacques Parizeau and was not a government minister.
  2. "Biography". Dictionnaire des parlementaires du Québec de 1792 à nos jours (in French). National Assembly of Quebec.
  3. Jennifer Robinson, "Leonard quits political life for university post," Montreal Gazette, 2 May 1985, A6; Robert McKenzie, "Queen's last Quebec visit spawned tensions," Toronto Star, 19 October 1987, A8.
  4. Graham Fraser indicates that Léonard's office was restructured as the ministry responsible for the Quebec Planning and Development Bureau on February 2, 1977, after enabling legislation was passed. Graham Fraser, PQ: René Lévesque & the Parti Québécois in Power, (Toronto: MacMillan of Canada), 1984, p. 380. Other sources do not mention this, and Léonard was still generally described as the minister of planning after this time.
  5. "Leonard selected as vice-president of Quebec's Treasury Board," Globe and Mail, 3 March 1978, p. 9.
  6. "Quebec agreement," Globe and Mail, 16 May 1979, B6. See also "New pulp mill," Globe and Mail, 26 January 1980, p. 2.
  7. William Johnson, "Cautious Cabinet moves pick up a good pair," Globe and Mail, 7 November 1980, p. 8.
  8. "Aylmer probe triggers call for details of civic spending," Globe and Mail, 22 December 1980, p. 4; "Aylmer group seeking probe of city finances," Globe and Mail, 29 April 1981, p. 11; "Get mayor a job or he'll never quit, council counselled," Globe and Mail, 4 July 1981, p. 13.
  9. Margot Gibb-Clark, "Halt shopping centres to prop up city cores, politician-retailer says," Globe and Mail, 24 April 1981, p. 9.
  10. "Levesque ignores two anglophones in Cabinet shuffle," Globe and Mail, 1 May 1981, p. 8.
  11. John Cruickshank, "Drapeau fights to contain suburban role on council," Montreal Gazette, p. 11.
  12. Margot Gibb-Clark, "Liberals in scramble to block PQ control over federal grants," Globe and Mail, 21 December 1983, p. 10.
  13. Margot Gibb-Clark, "Error in Quebec House leaves Liberals gleeful," Globe and Mail, 21 December 1983, p. 10; Margot Gibb-Clark, "Quebec Liberals force delay in bill against federal grants," Globe and Mail, 22 December 1983, p. 14.
  14. Margot Gibb-Clark, "Musical chairs deftly played," Globe and Mail, 12 March 1984, p. 4.
  15. Fraser, PQ, p. 345.
  16. Margot Gibb-Clark, "Quebec deputy premier resigns before major Cabinet shuffle," Globe and Mail, 6 March 1984, p. 4.
  17. "Quebec plans no Nordair bid," Globe and Mail, 8 May 1984, B4; "Quebec reaction," Globe and Mail, 31 May 1984, B5.
  18. Margot Gibb-Clark, "2 Levesque ministers quit, 3 more may go," Globe and Mail, 23 November 1984, p. 1. Léonard was the second cabinet minister to quit, following Jacques Parizeau.
  19. "Changes in PQ Government," Globe and Mail, 28 November 1984, p. 4.
  20. Graham Fraser, "Levesque takes role in constitutional talks," Globe and Mail, 13 March 1985, p. 3.
  21. "Quebec movement using caution," Globe and Mail, 7 May 1985, p. 4.
  22. "Left PQ last year, Leonard quits seat," Globe and Mail, 24 May 1985, p. 3
  23. Robert McKenzie, "Bourassa wins in Quebec PQ, anglophones cut in to Liberal majority," Toronto Star, 26 September 1989, A1.
  24. Rheal Seguin, "Quebec forecasts tiny increase in spending for 1993-1994," Globe and Mail, 25 March 1993, A2.
  25. Kevin Dougherty, "Former Caisse executives get plum PQ cabinet posts," Financial Post, 27 September 1994, p. 10.
  26. "9 provinces agree to help fix highways," Kitchener-Waterloo Record, 6 October 1994, B5.
  27. "Compendium Drunk drivers beware," Globe and Mail, 21 April 1995, A2; Andy Riga, "Quebec driver's licenses to get photos next year," Montreal Gazette, 20 December 1994, A1.
  28. James Mennie, "Minister cool to mandatory-helmet law," Montreal Gazette, 9 June 1995, A3.
  29. "Quebec drops plan to help MIL Davie," Globe and Mail, 6 July 1995, B3.
  30. Ann Gibbon, "Quebec throws MIL Davie $66-million rescue line," Globe and Mail, 21 July 1995, B1.
  31. Rheal Seguin, "Parizeau rearranges Quebec," Globe and Mail, 4 November 1995, A11.
  32. "Quebecers told to brace for 'painful sacrifices'," Hamilton Spectator, 25 November 1995, A4.
  33. Philip Authier, "Bouchard's super-ministry system raises some eyebrows," Montreal Gazette, 24 February 1996, B3.
  34. "New Separatist Government Slashes Quebec Spending," Associated Press, 27 March 1996.
  35. Lysiane Gagnon, "Pay equity shakes up the Bouchard government," Globe and Mail, 8 June 1996, D3; Konrad Yakabuski, "Quebec employers battle pay equity bill," Globe and Mail, 23 July 1996, B1.
  36. "Quebec to ask unions for rollback," Globe and Mail, 13 November 1996, A9; Rheal Seguin, "Quebec civil servants reject wage restraints," Globe and Mail, 16 November 1996, A10.
  37. Rheal Seguin and Tu Thanh Ha, "Quebec unions threaten chaos," Globe and Mail, 10 December 1996, A1.
  38. Karen Unland, "Quebec's proposed cuts face more opposition," 17 December 1996, A4.
  39. Rheal Seguin, "Quebec's cuts draw angry response," Globe and Mail, 19 March 1997, A9.
  40. Robert McKenzie, "PQ says spending cuts will help sovereignty," Toronto Star, 19 March 1997, A25.
  41. "Quebec says on deficit target track with job cuts," Reuters News, 3 July 1997; "Stampede! 25,400 grab Quebec offer for early retirement," Toronto Star, 4 July 1997, A14.
  42. "Quebec deficit reduction on track," Globe and Mail, 26 March 1998, A11.
  43. Patrick White, "Quebec kicks off public sector contract talks," Reuters News, 28 January 1999, 12:31; "Quebec negotiates settlement with unions," Toronto Star, 19 December 1999, p. 1; "Higher salaries for public-sector workers will make it tougher to control government spending, says Jacques Leonard, president of the Quebec Treasury Board," Canadian Press Newswire, 26 January 2000.
  44. "Quebec sees rise in 1999/2000 program spending," Reuters News, 25 March 1999, 14:26; "Press Release No. 1 - Tabling of the 1999-2000 Expenditure Budget - ``The 1999-2000 Expenditure Budget: $1.1 Billion More for Government Priorities - Jacques Leonard," Canada NewsWire, 25 March 1999, 14:43; "Press Release No. 3 - Tabling of the 1999-2000 Expenditure Budget - ``The Public Administration's Performance Must Also Be Associated With a State That Is Wired - Jacques Leonard," Canada NewsWire, 25 March 1999, 14:45.
  45. Robert McKenzie, "Quebec seeks to hire minorities," Toronto Star, 14 May 1999, p. 1.
  46. "PRESS RELEASE NO 1 - 2000-2001 Expenditure Budget - ``Rigorous management of public finances and good economic performance have provided Quebec with the means to invest in its priorities - Jacques Leonard," Canada NewsWire, 28 March 2000, 15:18; "PRESS RELEASE NO 2 - 2000-2001 Expenditure Budget - ``Quebecers can now enjoy the benefits of their efforts - Jacques Leonard," Canada NewsWire, 28 march 2000, 15:20.
  47. Rheal Seguin, "Ministers' resignations signal new Quebec guard," Globe and Mail, 6 March 2001, A4.
  48. Kevin Dougherty, "Quebec premier sees charity breaks for separatist group," Calgary Herald, 1 December 2002, A5; Philip Authier, "Sovereignty council is just the start," Montreal Gazette, 2 December 2002, A10.
  49. Elizabeth Thompson, "Ottawa's bill for furniture soars 215%, Bloc says in cost study," National Post, 15 January 2004, A4.
  50. Layton welcomes sovereigntist's NDP-Bloc comparison, CTV, 10 September 2008.
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