Mauril Bélanger

Mauril Adrien Jules Bélanger[2] PC (June 15, 1955 – August 15, 2016) was a Canadian politician.

Mauril Bélanger

Minister for Internal Trade
In office
May 17, 2005  February 6, 2006
Prime MinisterPaul Martin
Associate Minister of National Defence
In office
July 20, 2004  February 6, 2006
Prime MinisterPaul Martin
Preceded byAlbina Guarnieri
Succeeded byJulian Fantino (2011)
Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
In office
December 12, 2003  February 6, 2006
Prime MinisterPaul Martin
Preceded byPaul DeVillers
Succeeded byScott Reid
Chief Government Whip
In office
Prime MinisterPaul Martin
Preceded byMarlene Catterall
Succeeded byKaren Redman
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Ottawa—Vanier
In office
February 13, 1995  August 15, 2016
Preceded byJean-Robert Gauthier
Succeeded byMona Fortier
Personal details
Born(1955-06-15)June 15, 1955
Mattawa, Ontario, Canada
DiedAugust 15, 2016(2016-08-15) (aged 61)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Political partyLiberal
Spouse(s)Catherine Bélanger[1]
OccupationAdministrator, political adviser

A member of the Liberal Party of Canada, he represented Ottawa—Vanier in the House of Commons through a by-election victory in 1995 until his death in 2016. Bélanger also served in cabinet during the premiership of Paul Martin as Minister responsible for Official Languages, Associate Minister of National Defence, Minister responsible for Democratic Reform, and Minister for Internal Trade.

He was considered a frontrunner for the position of Speaker of the House of Commons after his 8th electoral victory during the 2015 federal election, but withdrew after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which caused his death in 2016.

Early life

Bélanger was born the second of five children in Mattawa, Ontario,[3] a small logging town in northeastern Ontario where the Mattawa and Ottawa Rivers meet. He graduated from the University of Ottawa in 1977, where he had served as President of the Student Federation.[4] In the early 1980s, he worked for Jean-Luc Pépin, then Minister of Transport. In the mid to late 1980s, he worked as a registered investment advisor. He was then the Chief of Staff to Peter Clark (Chair of the Regional Council of Ottawa-Carleton).[5]


Bélanger was first elected to Parliament on February 13, 1995, in a by-election in the riding of Ottawa—Vanier, which has a large Francophone population.[6] His predecessor, Jean-Robert Gauthier, was appointed to the Senate. Ottawa–Vanier is considered a solid Liberal riding, having returned a Liberal MP since its creation in 1935, usually in a landslide. Bélanger himself won by large margins in the 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006, and 2008 elections. He won re-election for a seventh term by a reduced margin with 38.2% of the vote in the May 2011 election. In the October 2015 election, Bélanger had his largest margin since the 1997 election.[7]

Chrétien and Martin years

As member of Parliament, Bélanger served as Chair of the Standing Committee on Official Languages, member of the Standing Committee on the Library of Parliament and member of the Prime Minister's Task Force on Urban Issues. From July 1998 to August 2000, he was Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage. In December 2003, he was appointed Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Chief Government Whip.[6]

In the government of Paul Martin, Bélanger served as Minister responsible for Official Languages, Associate Minister of National Defence, Minister responsible for Democratic Reform, and Minister for Internal Trade.[6]


Bélanger was re-elected in the 2006 federal election, and served as the Official Opposition critic for Canadian Heritage from February 2006 to January 2007, when he began a nine-month stint as critic for Infrastructure and Communities under new Liberal leader Stéphane Dion.[6] From October 2007 to March 2008, Bélanger served as the Official Opposition critic for Official Languages, Canadian Heritage, and the Francophonie.[6] After Bélanger won his seat once more in the 2008 federal election, he was appointed as Official Opposition critic for Official Languages in March 2010 by Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.[6] After Bélanger's re-election in the 2011 federal election, he continued as his party's critic on this file under interim leader Bob Rae until May 2012.[6] After Justin Trudeau's election as Liberal leader, Bélanger was appointed the party's critic for Cooperatives in August 2013.[6]

Return to government

Following his re-election in the 2015 federal election, Bélanger submitted his name for the position of Speaker of the House of Commons and was considered a front-runner for the post.[8] However, on November 30, Bélanger announced that he was withdrawing as a candidate for speaker after he received a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).[8] Despite his diagnosis, Bélanger continued as MP for Ottawa—Vanier.[9]

In December 2015, fellow Ottawa-area Liberal MP Andrew Leslie presented a motion in the house to name Bélanger honorary Speaker of the House of Commons and the right to sit in the chair for a future day.[8] In January 2016, Bélanger became the first MP to use a voice generator in the House of Commons when he used an app on his tablet to introduce a private member's bill to amend to lyrics of "O Canada" to make them gender-neutral, which he had failed to do through a similar bill in the last parliament by a 144–127 vote.[10] On March 9, 2016, Bélanger sat in the Speaker's chair for one day, and presided over the proceedings with the aid of an iPad app that produced a computerized voice.[11] This honour made Bélanger the first honorary speaker of the house for a day.[12]

On May 6, 2016, consideration of Bélanger's bill to make the national anthem gender neutral was blocked when Conservative MPs used up the hour of debate time and refused consent to two motions backed by both the Liberals and the NDP to extend debate and allow time to hold a vote to send the bill to committee.[12][13] As Bélanger's health was deteriorating, Liberal MP Greg Fergus described the Conservative's procedural delay tactics as an attempt to prevent Bélanger from seeing the bill passed, while Conservative MPs insisted that they were debating an important issue and had followed parliamentary procedure.[12][13] Fellow Liberal MP Linda Lapointe gave up her timeslot for private member's business on May 30 to allow Bélanger's bill to be heard and go to a vote for it to be sent to committee the following day.[14] In June 2016, the bill passed its third reading with a vote of 225 to 74 in the House of Commons.[15] In July 2017, the bill was in its third, and final, reading in the Senate;[16] the bill was passed on January 31, 2018 and received royal assent on February 7, 2018 to change "in all thy sons command" to "in all of us command", after Bélanger had already died.[17][18]


Bélanger earned recognition for his promotion of francophone rights. In 2012, Bélanger asked the House of Commons to create a committee to examine the role of co-ops in the Canadian economy. This motion was unanimously passed by the House of Commons.[19] He presided over the Canadian House of Commons for one day as an honorary Speaker on March 9, 2016, a job he aspired to before his diagnosis with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).[20] Later that year, Bélanger became the National Honorary Spokesperson for the ALS Societies' Across Canada WALK for ALS.[21]


He was given the title of Commandeur de Ordre de la Pléiade, a francophone order which focuses on contributions made to international friendship and cooperation, in 2005. In 2007, László Sólyom, President of Hungary, made him an Officer of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary. In April 2009, the Royal Canadian Legion recognized Bélanger for his contribution to the promotion of goodwill.[5] In June 2016, Bélanger received the CHF Canada Award for Outstanding Contribution to Co-operative Housing for effecting positive, large scale change to the co-op housing sector.[22]


Bélanger died at age 61 of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis on August 15, 2016.[23][24] He was survived by his wife, Catherine.[25]

Electoral record

Source, unless otherwise stated:[7]

2015 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes%±%Expenditures
LiberalMauril Bélanger36,47457.57+19.47$163,698.89
New DemocraticEmilie Taman12,19419.25-9.43$123,293.39
ConservativeDavid Piccini12,10919.11-8.84$74,698.91
GreenNira Dookeran1,9473.07-1.99$8,775.54
LibertarianCoreen Corcoran5030.79$747.12
Marxist–LeninistChristian Legeais1280.2-0.03
Total valid votes/Expense limit 63,355100.0 $219,479.72
Total rejected ballots 418
Turnout 63,773
Eligible voters 83,570
Source: Elections Canada[26][27]
2011 Canadian federal election: Ottawa—Vanier
Party Candidate Votes%±%Expenditures
LiberalMauril Bélanger20,00938.17-8.03
New DemocraticTrevor Haché15,39129.36+12.30
ConservativeRem Westland14,18427.06-0.22
GreenCaroline Rioux2,7165.18-3.40
Marxist–LeninistChristian Legeais1220.23-0.02
Total valid votes/Expense limit 52,422100.00
Total rejected ballots 3160.60 +0.07
Turnout 52,73868.24+4.20
2008 Canadian federal election: Ottawa—Vanier
Party Candidate Votes%±%Expenditures
LiberalMauril Bélanger23,94846.20+3.89$79,668
ConservativePatrick Glémaud14,13827.28-1.39$53,405
New DemocraticTrevor Haché8,84517.06-4.75$30,040
GreenAkbar Manoussi4,4478.58+1.98$3,842
IndependentRobert Larter2270.44
Marxist–LeninistChristian Legeais1300.25+0.04
Canadian ActionMichel St-Onge1000.19$149
Total valid votes/Expense limit 51,835100.00$85,605
Total rejected ballots 2770.53
Turnout 52,11264.04
     Liberal hold Swing +2.64
2006 Canadian federal election: Ottawa—Vanier
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalMauril Bélanger23,56742.31-6.86
ConservativePaul Benoit15,97028.67+4.48
New DemocraticRic Dagenais12,14521.81+3.27
GreenRaphaël Thierrin3,6756.60-0.27
Progressive CanadianJames C. Parsons2210.40
Marxist–LeninistAlexandre Legeais1170.21-0.28
Total valid votes 55,695100.00
     Liberal hold Swing -5.67
2004 Canadian federal election: Ottawa—Vanier
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalMauril Bélanger25,95249.17-6.40
ConservativeKevin Friday12,76924.19-6.95
New DemocraticRic Dagenais9,78718.54+9.83
GreenRaphaël Thierrin3,6286.87+4.62
MarijuanaCarol Taylor5581.06-0.45
Marxist–LeninistFrançoise Roy850.49+0.34
Total valid votes 52,779100.00
2000 Canadian federal election: Ottawa—Vanier
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalMauril Bélanger26,74955.57-6.30
AllianceNestor Gayowsky7,59015.77+5.97
Progressive ConservativeStephen Woollcombe7,40015.37+1.77
New DemocraticJoseph Zebrowski4,1948.71-3.28
GreenAdam Sommerfeld1,0832.25+0.94
MarijuanaRaymond Turmel7281.51
Natural LawPierrette Blondin1870.39-0.27
Canadian ActionRaymond Samuéls1310.27
Marxist–LeninistKim Roberge740.15-0.13
Total valid votes 48,136100.00
1997 Canadian federal election: Ottawa—Vanier
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalMauril Bélanger30,72861.87+1.14
Progressive ConservativeLuc Edmund Barrick6,75413.60+3.92
New DemocraticDavid Gagnon5,95211.99+5.57
ReformRoy Grant4,8689.80-10.76
GreenRichard Guy Briggs6511.31
Natural LawRoger Bouchard3300.66+0.10
IndependentCésar Antonio Bello2410.49
Marxist–LeninistRobert Rival1380.28-0.03
Total valid votes 49,662100.00
Canadian federal by-election, February 13, 1995: Ottawa—Vanier
Party Candidate Votes%±%Expenditures
LiberalMauril Bélanger11,91860.06−10.41$52,001
  Reform Kevin Gaudet 4,034 20.33 +12.44 $36,995
  Progressive Conservative Françoise Guenette 1,899 9.57 −0.96 $30,933
  New Democratic Party Bob Lawson 1,259 6.34 −0.16 $5,764
  Christian Heritage Gilles Gauthier 299 1.51 $1,751
GreenFrank de Jong2181.10−0.24$0
  Natural Law Ian A.G. Campbell 109 0.55 −0.35 $131
  Marxist-Leninist Serge Lafortune 61 0.31 +0.02 $136
  Abolitionist John Turmel 46 0.23 +0.17 $0
Total valid votes 19,843 100.00
Total rejected ballots 201
Turnout 20,004 30.39 −32.04
Electors on the lists 65,824
1976 Ottawa municipal election: By-St. George's Ward[28]
Candidate Votes %
Georges Bedard (X)3,78584.51
Mauril Bélanger69415.49


  3. "MP Mauril Bélanger dead at age 61 after ALS battle | Toronto Star". Toronto Star. August 16, 2016. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  4. "Mauril Bélanger, longtime Ottawa-Vanier MP, dies of ALS at 61". CBC News. August 16, 2016. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  5. "Hon. Mauril Bélanger". Liberal Party. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  6. "PARLINFO – Parliamentarian File – Complete File – BÉLANGER, The Hon. Mauril, P.C., B.A." Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  7. History of Federal Ridings since 1867: OTTAWA—VANIER, Ontario (1974 – )
  8. "Veteran MP Bélanger, diagnosed with ALS, to sit for a day as honorary Speaker". Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  9. "Mauril Bélanger will continue as Ottawa–Vanier MP after ALS diagnosis". Ottawa Citizen. November 30, 2015.
  10. "MP Mauril Bélanger uses voice generator to introduce bill". Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  11. Wherry, Aaron (March 9, 2016). "Commons Sketch: Mauril Bélanger takes Speaker's chair in "rare moment of grace" for Parliament". CBC News. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  12. Urback, Robyn (May 10, 2016). "Robyn Urback: How do you make Parliament even more excruciating to watch? Accuse the other guys of delaying a dying man's wish". National Post. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  13. Bryden, Joan (May 6, 2016). "Tories Block Bid To See Mauril Belanger's Gender-Neutral Anthem Bill Passed". Huffington Post Canada. The Canadian Press. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  14. O'Malley, Kady (May 11, 2016). "Ailing MP's 'O Canada' bill gets second chance after colleague gives up spot". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  15. "Dying MP's gender-neutral O Canada bill passes final Commons vote". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. June 15, 2016. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
  16. "LEGISinfo – Private Member's Bill C-210 (42–1)". Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  17. "'In all of us command': Senate passes bill approving gender neutral anthem wording". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  18. Tasker, John Paul (February 7, 2018). "O Canada now officially gender neutral after bill receives royal assent". CBC News. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  19. "Mauril Bélanger a Champion in the Co-op Movement". Axiom News. Archived from the original on October 30, 2013. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  20. Mauril Bélanger takes Speaker's chair in 'rare moment of grace' for Parliament
  21. "Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger Takes the Lead as the National Honorary Spokesperson for the ALS Societies' Across Canada WALK for ALS | ALS Canada". Archived from the original on August 5, 2016. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
  22. UNIFIED SAINT JOHN CO-OP, TOM CLEMENT AND MAURIL BÉLANGER HONOURED Archived August 28, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  23. "MP Mauril Belanger passes away after battle with ALS". The Globe and Mail, August 16, 2016.
  24. "Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger dies at 61". CTV News. August 16, 2016. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  25. "Mauril Bélanger, longtime Ottawa-Vanier MP, dies of ALS at 61". CBC News. August 16, 2016. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  26. Elections Canada – Confirmed candidates for Ottawa—Vanier, 30 September 2015
  27. Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates
  28. "Marion tops poll parade". The Ottawa Journal. December 7, 1976. p. 25.
27th Ministry – Cabinet of Paul Martin
Cabinet posts (3)
Predecessor Office Successor
vacant Minister for Internal Trade
Albina Guarnieri Associate Minister of National Defence
vacant – post next held by Julian Fantino
  Minister of State
styled as
Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Special Cabinet Responsibilities
Predecessor Title Successor
Pierre Pettigrew Minister responsible for Official Languages
Josée Verner
Jacques Saada Minister responsible for Democratic Reform
Position retitled – see Belinda Stronach
Special Parliamentary Responsibilities
Predecessor Title Successor
Paul DeVillers Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (Canada)
Scott Reid
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