Guy Bisaillon

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Guy Bisaillon
Born (1939-07-21)July 21, 1939
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Died March 21, 2017(2017-03-21) (aged 77)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Alma mater Université de Montréal
Occupation Teacher, Politician, Administrator

Guy Bisaillon (July 21, 1939 - March 21, 2017[1]) was a Canadian politician. Bisaillon served in the National Assembly of Quebec from 1976 to 1985, initially as a member of the Parti Québécois (PQ) and later as an independent.[2]

Early life and private career[edit]

Bisaillon was born in Montreal and studied at the Collège Saint-Paul, the École normale Jacques-Cartier, and the Université de Montréal. He has a teaching diploma and a master's degree in public administration from the École nationale d'administration publique (ENAP). He worked as a teacher for seven years and, during this time, became an active member of the labour movement. From 1971 to 1973, he was an administrator with the Centrale d'enseignement du Québec (CEQ).[3]

In August 1976, Bisaillon led a high-profile campaign in support of the Gens de l'Air du Québec, an organization of francophone air traffic controllers who were fighting a federal regulation restricting the use of French in their workplace.[4]

Political career[edit]

Bisaillon became politically active as a member of the radical Rassemblement pour l'Indépendance Nationale (RIN), a precursor to the Parti Québécois. He later became a prominent figure on the PQ's indépendantiste left-wing and often quarreled with its more moderate and gradualist leadership.[5] He first ran for office in the 1973 Quebec provincial election in the division of Taillon, where he was narrowly defeated by Liberal incumbent Guy Leduc.

PQ legislator[edit]

Bisaillon agreed to stand aside to permit PQ leader René Lévesque to run in Taillon in the 1976 provincial election. Running instead in Sainte-Marie, he was elected with a convincing victory over Liberal incumbent Jean-Claude Malépart.[6] There was some speculation that Lévesque might appoint Bisaillon to cabinet as a means of restricting his political independence, though ultimately this did not occur.[7]

As a government backbencher, Bisaillon campaigned for the Lévesque administration to strengthen its anti-scab legislation in 1977.[8] In 1978, he and fellow PQ representative Guy Chevrette worked as mediators to end a strike by editorial support workers at the newspaper Le Soleil.[9]

Bisaillon wrote a critical status review of the Parti Québécois in 1979; while this was intended as a private document for internal circulation, it was soon leaked to the media and caused a storm of controversy. Bisaillon criticized the party for downplaying its support of Quebec independence and accused the PQ leadership of stifling debate within the party. Journalist William Johnson noted that Bisaillon's review represented the concerns of many within the party.[5]

In early 1980, Bisaillon and fellow PQ legislator Denise Leblanc launched a committee to raise money in support of the Parti acadien in New Brunswick. This initiative was not supported by the PQ leadership.[10] In October 1980, Bisaillon was the only member of the Quebec legislature to vote against back to work legislation for the province's striking teachers.[11]

In 1981, Bisaillon took part in a civic committee that recommended parole for former Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) militant Paul Rose.[12]

Bisaillon was re-elected for a second term in the 1981 provincial election. Later in the same year, he organized a gathering of various left-wing movements in Montreal and openly speculated about leaving the PQ, charging that it had drifted from its original goals.[13] He initially chose to remain within the party but, ultimately, resigned to serve as an independent legislator on June 21, 1982.[14] In making this decision, he cited his opposition to the PQ's labour policies and its downplaying of sovereignty.

Independent legislator[edit]

In late 1982, Bisaillon voted against a government bill imposing new contracts and wage rollbacks on Quebec's public sector workers.[15] He called for the abolition of Quebec's inheritance taxes in 1984, saying they caused more harm than benefits.[16] In 1985, he introduced a motion to permit injured workers to receive full compensation in disputed cases until such time as all appeals were exhausted.[17]

Bisaillon strongly criticized the PQ government in a debate over a motion of non-confidence in March 1985, charging that Lévesque's administration had demonstrated "a total lack of vision and rigor when dealing with the economy, constitutional negotiations, or the public service" and had "accomplished virtually nothing for more than four years."[18] Shortly after this time, he moved a separate non-confidence motion that charged the government with "inability to implement a policy of full employment." The government narrowly survived both motions. During this period, Bisaillon became the unofficial leader of a group of seven former Péquiste legislators who formed a de facto opposition party in the legislature.[19]

In May 1985, Bisaillon and three other party dissidents sponsored a private member's bill to recognize Quebec's right to self-determination.[20] The bill was unsuccessful. The following month, the National Assembly of Quebec approved a bill to restrict the franchise in school board elections, such that only Catholics and Protestants would be able to vote in elections for the Montreal Catholic School Commission and the Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal, respectively. A practical consequence of the bill was to withdraw the franchise from Jews, Muslims, and other non-Catholics and non-Protestants. The only representatives to vote against the bill were members of the Quebec Liberal Party and Bisaillon.[21]

Bisaillon did not seek re-election in 1985.

Later career[edit]

Bisaillion worked with ENAP between 1985 and 1987 and later became active in radio and as a labour relations consultant. He became director-general of the Coopérative de développement régional de Montréal-Laval in 1997 and was chosen as its president in 2004.

Bisaillon considered running for the House of Commons of Canada as a supporter of Quebec independence in a 1990 by-election in Laurier—Sainte-Marie.[22] He chose not to run after Gilles Duceppe declared his candidacy, so as not to split the sovereigntist vote.[23]

Electoral record[edit]

Quebec general election, 1981: Sainte-Marie
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Parti Québécois Guy Bisaillon (incumbent) 13,667 61.35
Liberal Jacques Dion 7,600 34.12
Union Nationale Paul-Émile Gélinas 493 2.21
     Workers Communist Lorraine Rondeau 147 0.66
     Independent Jacques Lavoie 101 0.45
Marxist–Leninist Claude Brunelle 85 0.38
 } Workers Maurice Gohier 63 0.28
United Social Credit René Paré 43 0.19
Communist Gaétan Trudel 43 0.19
 } Independent Stéphane Verdier 34 0.15
Total valid votes 22,276 100.00
Rejected and declined votes 322
Turnout 22,598 75.11
Electors on the lists 30,087
Source: Official Results, Le Directeur général des élections du Québec.
Quebec general election, 1976: Sainte-Marie
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Parti Québécois Guy Bisaillon 13,617 54.97
Liberal Jean-Claude Malépart (incumbent) 8,574 34.61
Union Nationale André Roy 1,711 6.91
Ralliement créditiste Roger Hébert 674 2.72
 } Workers André Rousseau 107 0.43
  NDP - RMS coalition René Denis 90 0.36
Total valid votes 24,773 100.00
Rejected and declined votes 795
Turnout 25,568 81.54
Electors on the lists 31,355
Source: Official Results, Le Directeur général des élections du Québec.
Quebec general election, 1973: Taillon
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Guy Leduc (incumbent) 18,346 46.67
Parti Québécois Guy Bisaillon 17,769 45.20
Parti créditiste Bernard-E. Laplante 2,546 6.48
Union Nationale Marcel Marcoux 550 1.40
 } Independent Jean-Paul Paré 103 0.26
Total valid votes 39,314 100.00
Rejected and declined votes 1,333
Turnout 40,647 78.88
Electors on the lists 51,529
Source: Official Results, Le Directeur général des élections du Québec.


  1. ^ "Avis de décès - Guy Bisaillon". Domaine Funéraire (in French). Retrieved 9 July 2017. 
  2. ^ Parent, Réjean. "Guy Bisaillon, mort dans la discrétion". Le Journal de Montréal. Retrieved 7 July 2017. 
  3. ^ Guy Bisaillon (biography), National Assembly of Quebec, October 2008, accessed 28 November 2013.
  4. ^ "Back air traffic controllers, French teachers urged," Globe and Mail, 27 August 1976, p. 9; "The parties' drive for big names is on in the Quebec election," Globe and Mail, 22 October 1976, p. 11.
  5. ^ a b William Johnson, "Analysis hits PQ in Achilles heel," Globe and Mail, 30 August 1979, p. 8.
  6. ^ Richard Cleroux, "Levesque overloaded with potential members of cabinet," Globe and Mail, 17 November 1976.
  7. ^ Hubert Bauch, "New Parti Quebecois MNAs swear allegiance to Queen," Globe and Mail, 25 November 1976, p. 10.
  8. ^ "PQ's 'anti-scab' bill provokes demonstration by labor," Globe and Mail, 17 November 1976.
  9. ^ "Last union signs with Le Soleil after 10 months," Globe and Mail, 27 June 1978, B2.
  10. ^ "Quebeckers to aid cause of Acadians," Globe and Mail, 1 February 1980, p. 8.
  11. ^ The legislation was passed 68-1, with the opposition parties supporting the PQ government. See "End strikes, teachers told by Quebec," Globe and Mail, 25 October 1980, p. 3.
  12. ^ Richard Cleroux, "Denial of Rose parole unfair, panel charges," Globe and Mail, 19 February 1981, p. 12.
  13. ^ Margot Gibb Clark, "Referendum not biased pro-Levesque, PQ says," Globe and Mail, 17 December 1981, p. 8; "Unhappy Pequiste may or may not quit," Globe and Mail, 5 January 1982, p. 9.
  14. ^ "PQ member decides to stick with party," Globe and Mail, 21 January 1982, p. 10.
  15. ^ "Quebec tables bill on wage rollbacks," Globe and Mail, 10 December 1982, p. 8; "Levesque defends imposed contracts," Globe and Mail, 11 December 1982, p. 4.
  16. ^ Graham Fraser, "PQ budget called empty of substance," Globe and Mail, 24 May 1984, p. 8.
  17. ^ Jennifer Robinson, "Committee chairman casts vote to erase PQ loss," Globe and Mail, 22 February 1985, A4.
  18. ^ "PQ narrowly survives Liberal non-confidence vote," Montreal Gazette, 15 March 1985, A4.
  19. ^ "PQ facing another non-confidence vote," Montreal Gazette, 27 March 1985, A4; "PQ survives non-confidence vote," Montreal Gazette, 29 March 1985, A4.
  20. ^ Daniel Drolet, "Ex-Pequistes table pro-independence bill," Montreal Gazette, 16 May 1985, A5.
  21. ^ Peggy Curran, "House adopts bill depriving Jews, Moslems of city school board vote," Montreal Gazette, 5 June 1985, A4.
  22. ^ "NDP picks by-election candidate," Montreal Gazette, 13 June 1990, B8.
  23. ^ "Independent MPs field separatist in by-election," Toronto Star, 11 July 1990, A10.

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