Parti Québécois Crisis, 1984

The Parti Québécois Crisis of 1984 was one of the most severe internal party crises in Quebec politics.


In September 1984, Progressive Conservative politician Brian Mulroney became Prime Minister of Canada, with the backing of many Parti Québécois (PQ) supporters. Tensions erupted between the more radical supporters of the PQ–including most of the so-called purs et durs, or hardliners–and the more moderate ones over Premier René Lévesque’s decisions to:

In November 1984, six PQ Members of the National Assembly of Quebec (MNAs) resigned from the Cabinet. They were soon followed by other legislators who crossed the floor to sit as Independents.[1]


The PQ’s majority in the National Assembly almost completely vanished. It had started the term with 80 MNAs. By the end of the term, it was reduced to only 60 MNAs.

On June 3, 1985, the PQ lost a series of four by-elections, managing to finish third in the district of L’Assomption, behind Progressive Conservative Party of Quebec Leader André Asselin, with only 20% of the vote.

Eventually, the incident resulted in the resignation of Premier René Lévesque. In September 1985, a party leadership election chose Pierre-Marc Johnson, another moderate, as his successor.

However, the PQ lost the 1985 election and by 1987, the party’s radical wing pressured Johnson into quitting. Radicals were able to get Jacques Parizeau, one of their own, to take over the leadership of the party.


  MNA District Resignation from
Decision to sit as
an Independent
Resignation from
Status following 1985 Election
  Pierre de BellefeuilleDeux-Montagnesn/aNovember 20, 1984n/aDefeated as a
Parti indépendantiste (1985) candidate
  Jules BoucherRivière-du-Loupn/aJanuary 28, 1985n/aDid not run for re-election
  Louise HarelMaisonneuveNovember 27, 1984n/an/aRe-elected as a PQ candidate
  Camille LaurinBourgetNovember 26, 1984n/aJanuary 25, 1985Did not run for re-election
  Denis LazureBertrandDecember 4, 1984n/aDecember 4, 1984Did not run for re-election
  Denise Leblanc-BanteyÎles-de-la-MadeleineNovember 26, 1984November 27, 1984n/aDid not run for re-election
  Jacques LéonardLabelleNovember 22, 1984November 27, 1984May 23, 1985Did not run for re-election
  Gilbert PaquetteRosemontNovember 26, 1984February 4, 1985n/aDid not run for re-election
  Jacques ParizeauL’AssomptionNovember 22, 1984n/aNovember 27, 1984 Did not run for re-election
  Jérôme ProulxSaint-Jeann/aNovember 22, 1984 [2]n/aDefeated as a PQ candidate

Members of the Cabinet are indicated with bold fonts.


  1. Point de Mire sur René Lévesque, Épisode 10 : Le départ, Radio-Canada
  2. Jérôme Proulx crossed the floor again to sit with the PQ in December 1984
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