Jean Lapierre

Jean-Charles Lapierre PC (May 7, 1956 – March 29, 2016) was a Canadian politician and television and radio broadcaster. After retiring from the government in 2007, he served as a political analyst in a variety of venues.

Jean Lapierre

25th Minister of Transport
In office
July 20, 2004  February 5, 2006
Prime MinisterPaul Martin
Preceded byTony Valeri
Succeeded byLawrence Cannon
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Shefford
In office
Preceded byGilbert Rondeau
Succeeded byJean H. Leroux
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Outremont
In office
July 20, 2004  January 28, 2007
Preceded byMartin Cauchon
Succeeded byThomas Mulcair
Personal details
Jean-Charles Lapierre

(1956-05-07)May 7, 1956
Bassin, Quebec, Canada
DiedMarch 29, 2016(2016-03-29) (aged 59)
Iles de la Madeleine, Quebec, Canada
Political party
Nicole Beaulieu (m. 1989)
ResidenceMontreal, Quebec, Canada

He was Paul Martin's Quebec lieutenant during the period of the Martin government. He was first elected to the House of Commons in 1978, serving from 1979 to 1993, and representing the riding of Shefford. He sat as a Liberal from 1979 to 1990, and later as an independent. He returned after an eleven-year absence, when he won a seat in the 2004 federal election for the Montreal riding of Outremont. On July 20, 2004, he was appointed to the Canadian Cabinet as Minister of Transport, serving until the 2006 election. Lapierre resigned as the MP for Outremont on January 28, 2007.

In 2016, Lapierre died on a private plane that crashed on approach to Îles-de-la-Madeleine Airport. Seven people died in the crash, including four of his family members; they were traveling to their father Raymond's funeral. Both pilots died.[1][2]

Early life, education and marriage

Born May 7, 1956, Jean Lapierre was the oldest son of Raymond and Lucie Lapierre. He had younger siblings: a sister Martine and brothers Marc and Louis Lapierre.

He married and had two children: Marie-Anne and Jean-Michel Lapierre.[3] Later, the couple divorced. Lapierre married Nicole Beaulieu in 1989.[3]

Early political career


Lapierre was elected to the House of Commons in 1978, serving from 1979 to 1993, representing the riding of Shefford, Quebec. He sat as a Liberal from 1979 to 1990. Lapierre was a Quebec federalist; together with Pierre Trudeau, he opposed the 1980 Quebec referendum alternative to establish sovereignty for the province. In the first referendum on the place of Quebec in Canada, continued federal status won by nearly 60 per cent of the vote. In this period, the government officially recognized French as an official language of equal status with English in government. Federal government operations and documents, signs, etc. are required to be published and accessible in both languages.

After Trudeau retired from politics in 1984, he was succeeded as Prime Minister and party leader by John Turner. Turner appointed Lapierre at age 28 to cabinet (at the time, the youngest minister to serve in a federal cabinet) as minister of state for youth and amateur sport. Lapierre's tenure was brief as Turner called an election nine days after being sworn in, and the Liberals lost.

Lapierre was a strong proponent of the Meech Lake Accord, and Turner and Martin also expressed support for it. Trudeau publicly campaigned against it and his protege, Jean Chrétien, was later revealed to oppose it as well.

Lapierre's group led a stir at the 1990 Liberal Leadership Convention in Calgary when Jean Chrétien embraced Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador Clyde Wells hours after the latter had helped defeat the Meech Lake Accord. Lapierre's followers wore black armbands and yelled "Vendu!" (sell out!) at Chrétien. Lapierre had supported Paul Martin's unsuccessful campaign for the Liberal leadership. Chrétien, a staunch federalist like Trudeau, won the leadership on the day of the defeat of the Meech Lake Accords. Lapierre left the Liberal party in discontent.

Bloc Québécois

Upon leaving the Liberals, Lapierre sat as an independent, helping to found the Bloc Québécois and serving in their first caucus. In 1992, he retired from politics for a time and abandoned his affiliation with the Bloc. Lapierre has said that he never fully identified as a separatist and was the "red of the rainbow" in a temporary ad hoc rainbow coalition." He wanted to gain a level playing field" for Quebec.[4]


In private life, Lapierre was well known in Quebec as a broadcaster and talk show host for Montreal radio station CKAC. He also worked simultaneously as a TV news presenter for a time. He had a reputation for being extremely well-connected, able to pick up the phone and arrange meetings among different Quebecers from all walks of life. He was sometimes sought for behind-the-scenes political advice. As a talk show host, Lapierre was free to speak his mind. Some have speculated that in contrast to his freedom in broadcasting, he may have found politics to be constraining, in particular the need to stay "on message" to support party and leadership goals.

Return to Liberals

Lapierre never fully gave up his political ambitions or his personal loyalty to Paul Martin. When the latter became liberal leader in December 2003, Lapierre returned to party politics after a decade away.

Martin appointed Lapierre as his Quebec lieutenant. He had a different style from his predecessors, most of whom were cautious, soft-spoken, and mindful of the effects of their Quebec actions on the rest of Canada.[5] By contrast, Lapierre had what a CBC commentator described as a "rough and tumble, shoot from the hip style of politics", being known for his flamboyance, aggressiveness, toughness, rudeness and arrogance.[5]

News analysts questioned the need for a Quebec lieutenant, as Martin was bilingual.[5] In addition, polls showed fading support for the Bloc Québécois and Parti Québécois (who lost the 2003 provincial election), suggesting less need for a lieutenant. Others believed that Martin placed high importance on Quebec, hoping to fare significantly better than Chrétien had. He considered Lapierre to be crucial to winning over part of the nationalist vote.[5]

2004 federal election

In the 2004 federal election, Lapierre was expected to deliver the vote in Quebec, but this was difficult following the sponsorship scandal of the Liberal Party. The scandal severely hurt the party's support, especially in that province, while the rival Bloc Québécois gained support. Lapierre said that it would help the Liberals if the Royal Canadian Mounted Police could "lay some charges already" in the sponsorship probe.[6]

Years later, Lapierre said the sponsorship scandal had damaged the party like getting hit by a Mack truck.[7] When Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe tried to link Liza Frulla to the Sponsorship Scandal, saying that her 2002 by-election campaign was funded by members implicated in the scandal, Lapierre described it as "the cheapest thing you can do—try to start gossip that has no foundation".[8]

The Liberals were able to retain a plurality of seats to continue governing, but they were reduced to a minority. In Quebec, they lost 15 of the 36 seats won in 2000, and their popular vote fell from 44 to 34 per cent, while the Bloc Québécois captured 54 of the 75 seats.

Minister of Transport

As Minister of Transport, Lapierre initiated the Pacific Gateway Strategy, signing air transport agreements with China and India and completed a formal Canada-US Open Skies Agreement. He also spearheaded a large federal investment in the Prince Rupert container terminal, saying that it improved ties to Asian markets, while enhancing economic development in northern British Columbia and Alberta. Lapierre reduced the amount paid by airports to the federal government by some $5 billion over the remaining life of the leases. He announced the implementation of a No Fly List to increase security for airline passengers.[9]

As Transport Minister, his predecessor Tony Valeri had dismissed VIA Rail chairman Jean Pelletier, who filed a lawsuit against the government charging it had failed to use due process. A federal court ruled in his favor in November 2005 after the change in administrations, ordering Pelletier to be reinstated. The government appealed the court ruling and kept the former chair off the payroll. Lapierre ensured that due process was followed in dismissing Pelletier a second time.[10] But in March 2007, Justice Francois Lemieux ruled that the Martin government acted improperly in 2005 when it fired Pelletier a second time, immediately after a court had overturned his first dismissal, stating that Lapierre was biased and failed to follow proper procedures.[11] On November 22, 2007, Judge Hélène Langlois of Quebec Superior Court ruled that government of then-Prime Minister Paul Martin had acted in a "cavalier and precipitous" fashion when it fired Pelletier. The court awarded Pelletier $235,000 in lost income, and a further $100,000 in damages.[12]

Lapierre and his department were criticised for their handling of the collapse of the carrier Jetsgo. Critics said that he should have seen warning signs after unsuccessful attempts to lower the carrier's costs. They also said that he had failed to warn the public or intervene, making him indirectly responsible when thousands of travelers were stranded when the carrier stopped operations. Lapierre rejected calls to resign, and denied that he had any knowledge of the collapse. He pointed out that most of the passengers had booked flights with credit cards and would be eligible for refunds.[13]


Lapierre retained his position as Quebec lieutenant for the 2006 election. He was personally re-elected without much difficulty, though with a reduced margin.[14] But, the Liberals lost power in the campaign, falling from 21 to 13 seats in Quebec. They were surpassed by the Conservatives in the popular vote.

Paul Martin resigned as parliamentary leader on election night, and as party leader a month later. Interim successor Bill Graham appointed Lapierre to his shadow cabinet as Industry critic.

Lapierre was neutral at the 2006 Liberal leadership election, where Stéphane Dion was elected Liberal leader. Lapierre afterwards planned to announce that he would not run for re-election in Outremont, saying that his "commitment was to Mr. Martin for one mandate." Lapierre commented that Dion was the first leader not to have to cope with a divided party, after decades of infighting between Trudeau/Turner and Chrétien/Martin.

Return to broadcasting

On January 11, 2007, Lapierre announced that he would retire from political office at the end of the month.[15] He did so on January 28, 2007.

He started work as a political analyst with Quebec television network TVA and Montreal radio station 98.5 FM. He co-hosted a political show with reporter Paul Larocque: Larocque-Lapierre.[16] He was also political commentator for CJAD and FM 98.5 radio in Montreal, and FM 93 in Quebec city. He contributed regularly to Power Play and Question Period on the CTV network.

In 2014, Lapierre was coauthor with Chantal Hébert of the non-fiction book The Morning After: The 1995 Quebec Referendum and the Day that Almost Was.[17] It was a shortlisted nominee for the 2015 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.[18]


On March 29, 2016, Jean Lapierre died in a plane crash short of the airport in the Magdalen Islands. All seven travelers on board died, including his wife Nicole Beaulieu, sister Martine Lapierre, and brothers Marc and Louis Lapierre. The family was en route to the funeral of Lapierre's father, Raymond C. Lapierre, who had died a few days earlier.[19] All of the Lapierre family members were honored in a service at Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine in early April. They are survived by Marie-Anne and Jean-Michel Lapierre, children of Jean and his first wife, Gabrielle Choinière; and Lucie Lapierre, Raymond's widow.[20]

Lapierre and Beaulieu were given a funeral at Saint-Viateur d'Outremont church in Montreal on April 16, 2016, attended by extended family, friends, political and broadcasting colleagues, and dignitaries including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau. His daughter Marie-Anne Lapierre gave the eulogy.[3]

The plane that crashed with Lapierre and six other people aboard was travelling faster and at a higher altitude than recommended, the federal Transportation Safety Board stated. The agency said that the plane crashed short of the airport soon after the pilot turned off the autopilot and lowered the landing gear. Almost immediately afterwards, the Mitsubishi MU-2B-60 aircraft "rolled quickly into a steep right bank and descended rapidly" before smashing to the ground.[21]


125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal
Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal for Canada
Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for Canada

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

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

2004 Canadian federal election: Outremont
Party Candidate Votes%Expenditures
LiberalJean Lapierre15,67540.94$58,392
Bloc QuébécoisFrançois Rebello12,73033.25$63,640
New DemocraticOmar Aktouf5,38214.06$11,371
ConservativeMarc Rousseau2,2845.97$38,835
GreenShaun Perceval-Maxwell1,6434.29475
MarijuanaYan Lacombe4521.18none listed
Marxist–LeninistLinda Sullivan1200.31none listed
Total valid votes 38,286 100.00
Total rejected ballots 359
Turnout 38,645 56.13
Electors on the lists 68,855

Source: Official Results, Elections Canada.

1988 Canadian federal election: Shefford
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalJean Lapierre23,94348.24+0.73
Progressive ConservativeDanielle Coté21,44543.21+0.27
New DemocraticPaul Pearson4,2428.55+1.89
Total valid votes 49,630 100.00
1984 Canadian federal election: Shefford
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalJean Lapierre25,48347.51-20.96
Progressive ConservativeDenis Loubier23,02842.94+22.18
New DemocraticDenis Boissé3,5696.65-1.16
Parti nationalistePierre C. Boivin1,5522.89
Total valid votes 53,632 100.00
1980 Canadian federal election: Shefford
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalJean Lapierre32,44968.47+17.00
Progressive ConservativeArmand Russell9,83720.76-2.79
New DemocraticDenis Boissé3,7017.81+5.76
RhinocerosCornélius André Brazeau1,2742.69+1.12
Marxist–LeninistGilles Davignon1290.27
Total valid votes 47,390 100.00
1979 Canadian federal election: Shefford
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalJean Lapierre25,28751.47+12.13
Progressive ConservativeGérald R. Scott11,56723.54+6.93
IndependentGilbert Rondeau6,45413.14
Social CreditMurielle Audette3,9227.98-33.64
New DemocraticDenis Boisse1,0082.05-0.37
RhinocerosLyse Dumouchel7701.57
Union populaireGilles Maille1210.25
Total valid votes 49,129 100.00


  1. Authier, Philip (March 29, 2016). "Small plane crashes on Îles de la Madeleine". The Gazette.
  2. "Former federal cabinet minister Jean Lapierre reported on plane that crashed killing seven". The Star. March 29, 2016. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  3. Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press, " 'Papa, we are so proud to be your children': Jean Lapierre's family says final goodbye", CTV News, 16 April 2016, accessed 19 May 2016
  4. "CBC News Former BQ MP appointed Martin's Quebec lieutenant". 2004-02-05. Retrieved 2018-05-29.
  5. LARRY ZOLF:Quebec Lieutenants Archived November 28, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  6. "CalgaryGrit - Jean Lapierre". 2004-05-16. Retrieved 2011-03-28.
  7. "CTV - Liberals pay tribute to Paul Martin at convention". 2006-11-30. Retrieved 2011-03-28.
  8. Post, National (2005-12-05). "National Post - Duceppe vows to make Liberals 'disappear'". Archived from the original on 2012-10-23. Retrieved 2011-03-28.
  9. "CTV - Ottawa plans to develop no-fly list: Lapierre". 2005-08-06. Retrieved 2011-03-28.
  10. Clark, Campbell; Globe and Mail (December 23, 2005), Liberals fire Pelletier from railway - Again Archived 2005-12-25 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved December 23, 2005.
  11. "CTV - Court orders feds, Via to pay Pelletier $335,000". Retrieved 2011-03-28.
  12. "Court awards damages to Pelletier". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2015-05-29.
  13. "Minister rejects calls to resign over Jetsgo". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2015-05-29.
  14. Chris Selley, (2007-02-09). "Macleans - The fight for the sextuplets". Archived from the original on 2006-12-25. Retrieved 2011-03-28.
  15. "Quebec Liberal MP Jean Lapierre will quit by month's end". 2007-01-11. Retrieved 2015-05-29.
  16. Démission prochaine du libéral Jean Lapierre (French article)
  17. "Canadian fall books list long, diverse and quirky; Big names in fiction and politics". Montreal Gazette, September 14, 2014.
  18. "Shaughnessy Cohen Prize finalists announced", The Globe and Mail, January 27, 2015.
  19. Philip Authier, Montreal Gazette (2016-03-29). "Ex-transport minister dies in plane crash en route to dad's funeral". Archived from the original on 2016-03-29. Retrieved 2016-03-29.
  20. "Une cérémonie toute madelinienne pour la famille Lapierre", Radio Canada (in French), 8 April 2016, accessed 19 May 2016
  21. "Speed, altitude during landing at fault in crash killing Jean Lapierre | Montreal Gazette". 2016-07-13.
  22. "Commemorative Medals of The Queen's Reign in Canada".
27th Ministry – Cabinet of Paul Martin
Cabinet post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
Tony Valeri Minister of Transport
Lawrence Cannon
23rd Ministry – Cabinet of John Turner
Cabinet post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
  Minister of State (Youth) (Fitness and Amateur Sport)
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