Current Affairs

Canadian leader tearful over anti-gay abuse

Amy Bourke March 6, 2007
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A homophobic attack by a radio host left Andre Boisclair, the Parti Quebecois party leader, clearly emotional while giving a speech on Sunday.

Bosclair, an openly gay candidate for local election in the region of Saguenay in Quebec, choked up while talking about the importance of tolerance.

He said: “We must never live in a society where racism, intolerance, discrimination, sexism or homophobia are . . .”

He was visibly upset by the recent attacks on his sexuality, and had to stop his speech.

Recently a radio host described Parti Quebecois, the main Quebec social democratic and separatist party in Canada, as “a club of fags.”

He went on to suggest that local factory workers would not vote for gay candidates.

Many political observers agree that 40-year-old Boisclair’s sophistication and pitch for tolerance could be unattractive for voters in more conservative, rural areas.

But before these remarks Boisclair’s sexuality had remained below the surface.

Boisclair came out in 2000. Polls have shown that more than 90% of Quebecers are not opposed to a gay Premier of Quebec.

Andre Boisclair was the youngest member ever elected to the Quebec National Assembly at 23 years old.

At that time he also had a reputation as a party animal in Quebec City’s night-life scene.

In 2005 he admitted to using cocaine between 1996 and 2003, whilst serving as a member of the Quebec legislature.

The Parti Quebecois advocate independence from Canada and the formation of their own French-speaking state in Quebec.

During his time in office, Bosclair’s chief of Staff, Luc Doray, became the centre of a drug and embezzlement scandal.

After a routine audit, officials discovered that Doray had defrauded the party out of $30,000 in order to feed his cocaine habit.

The ensuing investigation cleared Boisclair of any wrongdoing.

Bosclair was elected as the sixth leader of the Parti Québécois in November 2005.

He gained 53.8% of the party membership vote, making him the first openly gay leader of a major political party in North America.

He launched his 2007 election campaign under the slogan “Reconstruisons le Québec” (Let’s reconstruct Quebec.)

The French-speaking Canadian province is due to hold their general election on March 26.

The federal Canadian election took place in January last year. The Conservative Party of Canada won, electing Stephen Harper as Prime Minister.

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