André Bachand (Progressive Conservative MP)

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André Bachand
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Richmond—Arthabaska
In office
1997–2004
Preceded by Riding was created in 1996 from portions of Drummond, Richmond—Wolfe, Compton—Stanstead and Lotbinière—L'Érable
Succeeded by André Bellavance
Personal details
Born (1961-12-08) December 8, 1961 (age 52)
Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Political party Progressive Conservative Party (1997-2004), Independent (2004-2008), Conservative Party (2008)
Occupation administrator, business executive
Website *André Bachand (Progressive Conservative MP) – Parliament of Canada biography
Not to be confused with André Bachand (Liberal MP)

André Bachand (born December 8, 1961, in Quebec City, Quebec) is a Canadian politician, who represented the riding of Richmond—Arthabaska as member of the Progressive Conservatives from 1997 to 2003.

When the PC Party was merged with the Canadian Alliance into the Conservative Party in December 2003, Bachand left the party and sat as an "Independent Progressive Conservative" until the 2004 election, and then retired from the House of Commons.

Bachand has been an administrator, and a business executive. He was the mayor of Asbestos, Quebec from 1986 to 1997, and was the Préfet of the MRC d'Asbestos from 1987 to 1997.

Young Turk[edit]

Bachand was first elected as a member of the Progressive Conservative Party in 1997, one of five PC MPs elected that year in Quebec. Bachand was one of a handful of new "Young Turk" PC MPs (along with Scott Brison, John Herron and Peter MacKay) who were considered the future youthful leadership material that would restore the ailing Tories to their glory days. In 1998, Jean Charest stepped down as federal Progressive Conservative leader to make the move to Quebec provincial politics, becoming leader of the federalist Quebec Liberal Party (unaffiliated with the Liberal Party of Canada). Bachand was one of many who unsuccessfully tried to convince Charest to remain in federal politics for at least one more election. Joe Clark succeeded Charest as leader of the PC Party and Bachand was supportive of Clark's candidacy.

Difficult times[edit]

The Quebec-wing of the federal PC Party parliamentary Caucus wrestled with several internal policy issues in the late 1990s after Charest's departure including the party's bilingualism policies and the autonomy of provinces in respect to federal powers. Shortly after Joe Clark was elected leader of the federal Tory Party, the federal government brought forward the Clarity Act. The Clarity Act was a Liberal Party of Canada sponsored Bill introduced by then Minister of Intergovernmental affairs Stéphane Dion. The Clarity Act detailed specifically how the province of Quebec could separate and under what conditions a separation could be legal. Clark chose to support Bachand and the Quebec PC Caucus MPs in the party and stated that he was against the Clarity Act while the fifteen other English MPs in the PC parliamentary Caucus voted in favour of the Bill regardless of Clark's stance.

Quebec lieutenant[edit]

By 1999, Bachand had emerged as the nominal Quebec lieutenant of the Conservatives, attending most PC events in the province with Clark and acting as the party's chief spokesman for Quebec issues. Bachand also was the chief responder to the multiple defections of Quebec Tory party officials, MPs and Senators to the Liberal and Canadian Alliance Parties during this period. In September 2000, three Quebec PC MPs, fearful of their re-election prospects under Clark's leadership, crossed the floor shortly before the federal election to sit as Liberal MPs, leaving Bachand as the only remaining PC MP in Quebec. He was subsequently re-elected in the 2000 election,[1] as were all three of the MPs who crossed the floor. The Tories emerged from the election retaining party status.

Deputy Leader[edit]

In February 2003, Bachand announced his candidacy for the leadership of the Progressive Conservatives.[2] However, on May 12, he announced that he was dropping out of the race and supporting Peter MacKay.[3] Bachand had been running fifth in the race, and had failed to gather support among party delegates and to raise enough money for his campaign. After MacKay's victory, Bachand briefly served as Deputy Leader of the Progressive Conservatives until early December 2003. Before becoming Deputy Leader, Bachand served as the Deputy House Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, as well as its critic for the Intergovernmental Affairs, Industry, Science Research and Development, and the Deputy Prime Minister portfolios.

Lone independent[edit]

When the party merged with the Canadian Alliance at the end of 2003, Bachand announced that he would retire from politics. Bachand did not sit with the new Conservative Party of Canada Caucus, and became an independent MP until the June 2004 election. During the June 2004 election, Bachand endorsed the Liberal candidate in the Richmond—Arthabaska race over the Conservative and Bloc Québécois challengers. The riding was ultimately carried by the BQ in their electoral sweep of the province.

Bachand's departure from federal politics has been lamented by many Tories hailing from Quebec. In a Maclean's article covering the March 2005 founding policy convention of the new Conservative Party, Senator Pierre Claude Nolin mused that if Bachand had remained elected and participatory in the new party, he would have likely replaced Peter MacKay as deputy leader, and would have served as the new Conservative Party's chief Quebec lieutenant as part of Stephen Harper's attempts to woo Quebec voters into supporting the Tories. In the 2006 election, the new Conservative Party won 10 seats from Quebec, and some suggest that Bachand may have missed his chance at becoming Deputy Prime Minister.

Return to politics[edit]

In September 2008, Bachand announced that he would be the Conservative Party candidate for the district of Sherbrooke in the 40th Canadian General Election.[4][5] On election night, Bachand's comeback attempt was unsuccessful. He lost to Bloc Québécois incumbent Serge Cardin, finishing third with 16.4% of the vote.[6]

Shortly after his election defeat, Bachand was appointed by Harper as Canada’s ambassador to UNESCO in Paris.[7] As ambassador, Bachand’s most high-profile activity was to oppose, on the Canadian government’s behalf, the entry of the Palestinian Authority to membership in the organization.

In October 2011, Harper appointed Bachand as his senior advisor on Quebec issues. The post, which previously had been combined with responsibility for being Harper’s communications advisor, was reportedly separated from other responsibilities in order to make space for Bachand.[8]

In 2013, Maclean’s included Bachand as one of the thirteen members of Harper’s “inner circle”, of most-trusted advisors, tasked “to try to improve Conservative fortunes in Quebec.”[9]

References[edit]