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Paul Martin remembers Jean Lapierre

The former prime minister on Lapierre’s colourful political life in Quebec and across Canada


 

There are never really words that truly capture the scope of a tragedy, that can sum up the connections and moments that make up a life well lived. But the shocking death of former cabinet minister and broadcaster Jean Lapierre, who was killed alongside his wife, two brothers and a sister in a plane crash near the remote Îles-de-la-Madeleine airport, defy any description. Lapierre and his family were on their way home to the islands in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where their father had passed away a day earlier. Lapierre’s two surviving children now face the unthinkable prospect of six funerals.

If words fail to capture the scope of the tragedy, Lapierre himself was rarely ever at a loss for words. His meteoric rise as an MP—then the youngest in Parliament—launched an extraordinary political career that saw him serve in the Liberal caucus, then as an independent, on to the Bloc Quebecois, and finally back to the Liberals. His career after elected politics included work as a popular broadcaster and writer.

Lapierre’s love was always his home province of Quebec, and his deep loyalty to the province was rivalled only by his loyalty to friend and political mentor Paul Martin. The former prime minister wooed Lapierre back to politics before the 2004 election, named him the Liberal Party’s Quebec lieutenant and, after the campaign, brought him into cabinet as Transport minister.

Evan Solomon spoke to Martin about the loss and legacy of Lapierre.


 

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