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Chronologies of Quebec History


Last revised:
19 February 2001

Chronology of the Yves Michaud Affair

Claude Bélanger,
Department of History,
Marianopolis College

1930February 13Yves Michaud was born in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec.
1959 Michaud received a Canada Council bursary to study journalism at the Université de Strasbourg.
1962-1966 Editor and director of the newspaper La Patrie.
1966June 16Elected to the National Assembly as the Liberal candidate for the riding of Gouin.
1969 Formed, with René Levesque and Jérome Proulx, the Ad Hoc group (l’opposition circonstantielle) opposing bill 63. This bill granted freedom of choice in the language of instruction to all Quebecers, including to immigrants. The Ad Hoc group wished to end the regime of freedom of choice and channel immigrants to the French school sector.
1970May 12Michaud was defeated as a Liberal candidate in the riding of Gouin.
1970-1973 Michaud was High-Commissioner for Cooperation at the provincial Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs.
1973 Michaud was defeated by Lise Bacon as a Parti Québécois candidate in the riding of Bourassa.
1973-1976 Michaud was editor of the newspaper Le Jour. This newspaper was established by the Parti Québécois. René Lévesque was one of its regular contributor.
1977February 6At night, a car driven by René Lévesque, Premier of Quebec, struck and killed Edgar Trottier. He had been lying down in the middle of the road. Lévesque had spent the previous evening and night at the apartment of Yves Michaud. As a breathalyser test was not performed by the police, the testimony of Michaud at the coroner's inquest was crucial in determining that Lévesque was not under the influence of alcohol while driving.
1977 Michaud was appointed Delegate of Quebec to various international organisations.
1978-1979 Michaud was made advisor to René Lévesque in international affairs.
1979-1984 Appointed Delegate-General of Québec to France.
1980-1984 There were reports that Michaud and Lévesque had a falling out following the failed referendum of 1980. Lévesque considered that the people had spoken in rejecting sovereignty-association and that it was his duty to attempt to bring about reforms of Canadian federalism (this was the period of le beau risque). Michaud, along with some others, opposed the softening of the position of the Parti québécois. This led Lévesque to abandon politics in 1984.
1984-1987 Director of the Palais des Congrès de Montréal.
1987-1993 Involved in a wine importing business.
1993-2000 Michaud, along with a number of other investors, lost a good deal of money as the National Bank took over from the failed General Trusco of Canada, Inc. Henceforth, Michaud campaigned strongly to bring about various bank reforms. He became known as the Robin des banques (the bank Robin Hood), insisting that the powers and privileges of the boards of directors of financial institutions be limited and their they be made more accountable to the shareholders.
1995October 30In his acknowledgement speech of the close defeat of sovereignty in the referendum held on this day, Jacques Parizeau attributed the defeat of the yes side to "money and ethnic votes". The controversy that broke out was so intense, and the unacceptability of targeting "ethnic votes" as the cause for defeat was so clear that Parizeau had to announce his resignation in a matter of hours. He denied that his resignation was linked to the comments made. He was replaced as leader of the PQ by Lucien Bouchard.
1996March 11In a speech at the Centaur theatre in Montreal to address members of the anglophone community, Lucien Bouchard declared that it was "perfectly legitimate" for many anglophones to have voted against sovereignty at last october’s referendum since they had done so out of conviction. He pledged to continue working to convince them to join the sovereignty movement.
1997-1999 On several occasions, Lucien Bouchard intervened to soften positions taken by hardliners within the PQ party on the questions of sovereignty and language.
2000December 5In an interview with Paul Arcand of CKAC radio, Michaud stated that Jews feel that they are the only people to have suffered in the history of humanity. He pointed out that other people, such as Palestinians, Armenians and Rwandans have suffered as well.
2000December 12At the age of 70, Michaud announced that he would seek the PQ nomination in the riding of Mercier. He indicated that he did not expect to join the cabinet as such a position would force him to show cabinet solidarity. Instead, he declared that "he wished to safeguard his freedom of speech so as to be in the position, if necessary, to express dissenting views".
2000December 13Yves Michaud presented a memorandum to the Estates-General on language. Moving away from the prepared text, he argued that 12 sections of voting in Côte-Saint-Luc, a predominantly Jewish district on the Island of Montreal, had not given a single vote for sovereignty at the referendum of 1995. He concluded from this that these were "ethnic votes against the sovereignty of Quebec". He reiterated the views on Jews he had expressed on radio on December 5. He also accused the B’Nai Brith organisation of being extremist, anti-Quebec and anti-sovereignist. He uttered these words while Robert Libman, mayor of Côte-Saint-Luc and member of B’Nai Brith, was present in the audience, awaiting to present a brief of his own.
2000December 13Robert Libman called on Lucien Bouchard to disavow Michaud as the PQ candidate in Mercier. He called Michaud a "sovereignist dinosaur".
2000December 14The National Assembly of Quebec unanimously condemned the sentiments and ideas expressed by Michaud at the Estates-General.

See the debate and the vote in the National Assembly. [en français]

On the same day, Yves Michaud demanded to be heard by the National Assembly.

2000December 15Controversy broke out within the Parti Québécois. It centred on the suitability of Michaud to carry the party banner in Mercier and on the advisability of the National Assembly to have condemned him.
2000December 17 Michaud sent an open letter to the 125 members of the National Assembly. In it, he defended his position. He also announced that he would not withdraw from the Mercier race. [en français]
2000December 18A few dozen prominent péquistes signed an open letter of support for Michaud that was published in several newspapers. They condemned the National Assembly for violating the freedom of speech of Michaud. Among the signers to the letter was Jacques Parizeau, the former leader of the Parti Québécois.

In an open letter sent to the provincial newspapers, Jacques Brossard, parliamentary leader of the government, defended the motion of censure of the National Assembly. [en français]

2000December 19At a press conference, Premier Lucien Bouchard indicated that he did not want Yves Michaud as the PQ candidate in Mercier riding.
2000December 20Bouchard was adamant that the PQ had to choose between Yves Michaud and him. He stated that he could not defend the position of the Parti Québécois if Michaud was allowed to stand for the party in Mercier.

Yves Michaud declared that Bouchard should apologise to him so as to "prevent what might very well be an irreparable break within the PQ party". In his open letter, Michaud demanded that Bouchard repair the harm he had inflicted on him.


2000December 21Jean Charest, leader of the provincial Liberal Party, blamed Lucien Bouchard for the whole controversy. According to Charest, Bouchard had failed to close the door to Michaud’s candidacy in the riding of Mercier.
2000December 31 Yves Michaud wrote a long letter to Lucien Bouchard. Essentially, he reiterated his views, defended himself and demanded that Bouchard take steps to have the motion of censure of the National Assembly withdrawn. This letter was published in La Presse on January 13, 2001. [en français]
2001January 9Rumours circulated that Bernard Landry, finance minister, and Fernand Daoust, union leader, were hard at work trying to work out a compromise.
2001January 10Le Devoir published a full page ad by supporters of Michaud. The ad focused on the issue of freedom of expression and condemned the motion of censure adopted by the National Assembly. Some people whose name appeared as supporting the ad denied that they had given permission for their name to be used. This was the case for Guy Bouthiller of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste and Réjean Lalancette, president of the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean PQ association.

In the evening, rumours broke out that Lucien Bouchard was about to resign.

2001January 11 Lucien Bouchard announced that he was leaving politics. In his speech, he gave two reasons for his resignation: the fact he had been unable to bring about sovereignty, indeed to advance significantly the cause and his desire to spend more time with his family. In his speech, he spent a good deal of time to discuss the Michaud affair although he was clear that this had not been a reason for his resignation. [en français]
2001January 12-14 A poll conducted in Quebec showed that 72% of Quebecers approved of the position taken by Lucien Bouchard in the Michaud affair. [en français]
2001January 14 In an open letter sent to the provincial newspapers, Yves Michaud announced that he was withdrawing his candidacy for the PQ nomination in Mercier riding. [en français]
2001January 16 A petition of support for the views of Lucien Bouchard, initiated some weeks before and sponsored by 14 young péquistes, was printed in Le Devoir. This petition was signed by 1,000 ordinary citizens. [en français]
2001January 16

At a press conference called to discuss his candidacy to the leadership of the Parti Québécois, Bernard Landry reiterated his view that Quebec constitutes a political nation that includes all Quebecers. [en français]

© 2001 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College