Mr. Speaker, on November 1, 1987, René Lévesque passed away, leaving behind not only the love of an entire people but also a great void.
With his plan for government takeover of the hydro sector, he gave French Canadians, who had little hope for a future, reason to hold their heads up high. “We can do it”, he said repeatedly as a Liberal and federalist minister at the time.
He turned the independence movement into a popular political party, the Parti Quebecois, which he lead to victory in 1976 and, while in office, gave Quebec some of its most forceful legislation, including legislation on public financing of political parties and on agricultural zoning, Bill 101 and legislation on occupational health and safety.
He suffered the pain of losing the referendum in 1980, but had the nobility of soul to respect the democratic choice made by Quebeckers, convinced that they would eventually get their own country.
To paraphrase Félix Leclerc, he will be, for us and forever, on the short list of liberators of people.