Fortin was elected leader of the party on November 7, 1976 after his popular predecessor, Réal Caouette, was forced to resign due to illness. The party was then struggling, having lost almost all its support in the west and in decline in Quebec where its members were divided between support for Canadian federalism and for sovereignty association for Quebec, a position supported by René Matte whom Fortin defeated for the leadership. Fortin's efforts to rebuild the party were cut short when he was killed after only eight months as leader.
Fortin died in a car crash at about three in the morning on June 24, 1977 at the age of 33. It is believed that he fell asleep while driving, and his car went off the highway. where it missed a bridge and jumped over a river, slamming into the embankment on the other side. The accident took place on the Trans-Canada Highway between Montreal and Quebec City. At the time of his death, he had two young children.
Réal Caouette's son, Gilles Caouette, became acting leader of the party five days later.
|National Leaders of Social Credit
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