Sunday, April 18, 2010

Michel Chartrand Quebec Labour leader dead at 93.

Chartrand fought all his life for working people and also for the Quebec separatist cause. He was known for his fiery speeches and salty language. He was jailed by several different Quebec regimes for his activities most famously during the War Measures Act. More is available at this site.

Memories of Michel

Michel Chartrand, an outstanding leader of the Quebec labour, nationalist, socialist and social justice movements, died on April 12 at the age of 93.

A multitude of Québécois worked with Michel in the causes that marked his long life, and the Quebec media this week are full of tributes to his contributions. Translated below is an older tribute by 110 well-known activists, published on the occasion of his 90th birthday, that summarizes some of the key events of his life. It is followed by some personal memories of my own.

— Richard Fidler.

In Praise of a Passionate Defender of the Workers

Le Devoir, November 18, 2006

Next December 20, Michel Chartrand will celebrate his 90th birthday. One of the very few public personalities to have never deviated from his ideals, this exceptional fighter has for 70 years participated in all the memorable events in Quebec's history. He has become an integral part of those events since he has been on the line of fire in all the major social and political battles, starting in the mid-1930s. For example, during the Fifties, in the “Grande Noirceur” [the dark days of Duplessis], he acted as a spearhead of the trade-union movement, which was the real opposition to Duplessism and opened the way to the Quiet Revolution. Chartrand personally paid the price, being jailed no fewer than seven times in the course of the hard-fought conflicts that marked that period, the best known of which were those in Asbestos and Murdochville.

The fate he suffered then gave a foretaste of the troubles he would later have with the legal system and the many further jailings – including his detention for four months under the War Measures Act decreed by the Trudeau government during the October Crisis of 1970. His trial – like that of all the 300 or so other persons unjustly jailed at that time – ended in a dismissal of the charges.

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