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René Lévesque

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René Lévesque (1922-November 1, 1987), a politician in Canada, was the founder of the Parti Québécois, and was the premier of the province of Quebec from 1976 to 1985.

Born in New Carlisle, Quebec[?], Lévesque was first a journalist associated with the CBC as news manager and host of a weekly television news program. In 1960 he entered the political scene as a Liberal cabinet minister. At that time he played an important role in the nationalization of Hydro-Quebec[?] and other Quebec industries. Lévesque helped implement the important political reforms of 1960-66, called the Quiet Revolution.

He founded the Parti Québécois in 1968, later losing two general elections. Lévesque eventually led the separatist party to power in November 1976. On May 20 1980 the PQ held a referendum on its sovereignty-association project. Lévesque's political program contained many social-democratic goals in terms of social policies, yet some felt that the party did not manage to live up to the expectations of its voters. One reason was that many Quebecers found some of his laws to be unacceptable. Lévesque's referundum law banned corporate donations and placed limits on individual contributions to political parties. This key legislation which Lévesque's government adopted was to ensure that the rich were unable to buy an election. He also had a very controversial French language charter (Bill 101) which banned commercial bilingual signs and restricted access to English schools.

Lévesque conceded defeat in the May 1980 referendum, yet he still remains as an important figure in the French nationalist movement in Quebec and as sovereignty's spiritual father to the separatists. He did manage to lead the PQ to a re-election victory in the next year. A heavy smoker, he died of a massive heart attack.

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