Roch La Salle

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Roch La Salle, PC (August 6, 1928 – August 20, 2007) was a Canadian politician who served in the province of Quebec. He represented the riding of Joliette in the Canadian House of Commons for 20 years. A popular figure, he was re-elected six times during his tenure.[1]

Born in St-Paul, in Montreal, La Salle had a career in public relations and sales when he first attempted to win a parliamentary seat as a Progressive Conservative in the 1965 federal election, running in Joliette—L'Assomption—Montcalm. He was defeated, but won on his next attempt in the renamed riding of Joliette in the 1968 election. He was one of only a handful of Quebec Tory members in that Parliament.

La Salle quit the party in 1971 to protest Tory leader Robert Stanfield's rejection of the concept that Canada was composed of "two nations" (deux nations) and that Quebec had the right to self-determination.[2] He was re-elected as an independent candidate in the 1972 election with the support of the separatist Parti Québécois.[3] He returned to the Tory caucus in early 1974.[4]

Along with Heward Grafftey, he was one of only two Tory MPs elected from Quebec in the 1979 election that brought the Conservatives to power under Joe Clark.[5] La Salle served as Minister of Supply and Services in the short-lived (1979–80) Clark government.[6]

La Salle was the only Quebec Tory MP returned in the 1980 election. In early 1981, he resigned his seat in order to move to provincial politics and take the leadership of the Union Nationale (UN) political party prior to the 1981 Quebec provincial election.[7] La Salle chose not run in his home town of Joliette because the riding was then represented by an old friend of his, Guy Chevrette, a member of the PQ and Party Whip.[8] Instead, he ran in the neighbouring riding of Berthier. The Union Nationale lost all five of its remaining seats as the PQ won a crushing victory.[9] He returned to the federal House of Commons in a by-election that was called later that year to fill the vacancy his resignation had created.[10]

When the Tories again formed government after the 1984 election, this time under Brian Mulroney, La Salle became Minister of Public Works. He resigned from Cabinet in 1987 after being charged with accepting a bribe and influence peddling.[11] He denied any wrongdoing, but did not run in the 1988 election. The criminal case against him was eventually dropped.

La Salle died on 20 August 2007 in a hospital in Joliette. He was 78 years of age.

Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney said in a statement that he was saddened to hear of La Salle's death, calling him an example of a politician who was close to the people in his riding.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ LA SALLE, The Hon. Roch, P.C. Parliament of Canada
  2. ^ a b Former Tory cabinet minister Roch La Salle dies. CBC News. August 20, 2007. [1]
  3. ^ McKenzie, Robert. Liberals hold ground, but Caouette is big Quebec winner. The Toronto Star. October 31, 1972. p. A14.
  4. ^ Conservatives get 3rd MP from Quebec. The Toronto Star. February 26, 1974. p. A1.
  5. ^ Stevens, Geoffrey. Clark's first task: to reassure Quebec. The Globe and Mail. May 24, 1979. p. A7.
  6. ^ The Clark Cabinet. The Globe and Mail. June 5, 1979. p. A9.
  7. ^ Gray, John. Tory caucus loses lone Quebec MP. The Globe and Mail. January 10, 1981. p. A01.
  8. ^ Gibb-Clark, Margot. Quebec Liberals counting on a heavy turnout. The Globe and Mail. April 11, 1981. p. 12.
  9. ^ Cleroux, Richard. Levesque re-elected with massive majority. The Globe and Mail. April 14, 1981. p. A1.
  10. ^ Malarek, Victor. Tories keep Joliette, foothold in Quebec. The Globe and Mail. August 18, 1981. p. A1.
  11. ^ Fraser, Graham. Quebec Tory's resignation is latest turn in twisty road. The Globe and Mail. February 20, 1987. p. A03

Political record[edit]

Parliament of Canada
Preceded by
None
Member of Parliament for Joliette
1968–1988
Succeeded by
Gaby Larrivée (PC)
24th Ministry – Cabinet of Brian Mulroney
Cabinet Post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
Charles Lapointe (Liberal) Minister of Public Works
1984–1986
Stewart McInnes (PC)
21st Ministry – Cabinet of Joe Clark
Cabinet Post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
Pierre De Bané (Liberal) Minister of Supply and Services
1979–1980
Jean-Jacques Blais (Liberal)
Party political offices
Preceded by
Michel Le Moignan (interim)
Leader of the Union Nationale
1981
Succeeded by
Jean-Marc Béliveau