Current Affairs

Quebec gay leader resigns aged 41

PinkNews Staff Writer May 9, 2007
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When the Parti Québécois disappointed their supporters with a low result in the state elections in March, many blamed their leader, Andre Boisclair.

Now Mr Bosclair, the first ever out gay man to lead a political party in North America, has resigned after only two years in the job.

The PQ won just 36 of the province’s 125 seats to finish in third place, one of the worst defeats in history for the party.

There is now little chance of a referendum on the sovereignty of Quebec, a key electoral issue for the party.

Boisclair was Parti Québécois’ youngest leader and was elected as a member of the legislature at the age of 23.

Neither coming out in 2000 nor his infamous cocaine habit dented his popularity, but it seems that March’s poor electoral result spelt the end of his political career.

The PQ is notoriously hard on party leaders, something which was obviously playing on 41-year-old Boisclair’s mind.

During the election campaign, noted that Boisclair’s sophistication and pitch for tolerance could be unattractive for voters in more conservative, rural areas.

There was a glitch in his campaign when he was made the victim of a homophobic remark by a Canadian DJ, who was later sacked.

Saguenay radio host Louis Champagne fell foul of the authorities at popular radio station CKRS when he described the Parti Quebecois as a “club of fags.”

But apart from that, the election campaign appeared to be going surprisingly well.

Boisclair was elected as the sixth leader of the PQ 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 Parti Québécois advocate independence from Canada and the formation of their own French-speaking state in Quebec.

During his time in office at the Quebec legislature, Boisclair’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.

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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