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François Legault

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François Legault
Legault in 2022
32nd Premier of Quebec
Assumed office
October 18, 2018
Lieutenant Governor
DeputyGeneviève Guilbault
Preceded byPhilippe Couillard
Leader of the Coalition Avenir Québec
Assumed office
November 4, 2011
PresidentDominique Anglade
Maud Cohen
Stéphane Le Bouyonnec
Sarah Beaumier
Preceded byPosition established
Minister of Health and Social Services
In office
January 30, 2002 – April 29, 2003
PremierBernard Landry
Preceded byRémy Trudel
Succeeded byPhilippe Couillard
Minister of Education
In office
December 15, 1998 – January 30, 2002
PremierLucien Bouchard
Bernard Landry
Preceded byPauline Marois
Succeeded bySylvain Simard
Parliamentary constituencies
Member of the National Assembly
Assumed office
September 4, 2012
Preceded byScott McKay
In office
November 30, 1998 – June 25, 2009
Preceded byLévis Brien
Succeeded byNicolas Marceau
Personal details
Born (1957-05-26) May 26, 1957 (age 67)
Lachine, Quebec, Canada
Political partyCoalition Avenir Québec (since 2011)
Other political
Parti Québécois (1998–2009)
Isabelle Brais
(m. 1992)
ResidenceÉdifice Price
Alma materHEC Montréal (BBA, MBA)
  • Politician
  • Accountant
  • Executive

François Legault MNA (pronounced [fʁɑ̃.swa lə.ɡo]; born May 26, 1957) is a Canadian politician serving as the 32nd premier of Quebec since 2018. A founding member of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), he has led the party since it began in 2011. Legault sits as a member of the National Assembly (MNA) for the Lanaudière region riding of L'Assomption. Legault's ongoing tenure of 5 years, 243 days as premier is the ninth-longest in Quebec history and the longest of any Quebec premier since 2012.

Prior to entering politics, he was the co-founder of the Canadian airline Air Transat.[1] He was a MNA from 1998 to 2009—serving in the governments of former premiers Lucien Bouchard and Bernard Landry—as the minister of education from 1998 to 2002 and as the minister of health from 2002 to 2003. He was a member of the Parti Québécois (PQ), first elected in the 1998 Quebec election in the riding of Rousseau. He was re-elected in 2003, 2007, and 2008 but resigned his seat on June 25, 2009. He returned to the legislature following his victory in the 2012 Quebec provincial election as the MNA for L'Assomption, a suburb of Montreal. He was reelected in 2014. He led the CAQ to majority governments in the 2018 and 2022 provincial elections; the first government not of the Quebec Liberal Party or the Parti Québécois (PQ) since Jean-Jacques Bertrand's 1970 Union Nationale government.

Early life and education[edit]

François Legault was born on May 26, 1957, at the Lachine Hospital and grew up in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec. His father, Lucien Legault, was a postmaster. His mother, Pauline Schetagne, was a housewife who also worked as a cashier at the local A&P grocery store.[2]

Legault has a bachelor's and master's degree in business administration from HEC Montréal. He is also a member of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants.[3]

Business career[edit]

Legault worked as an administrator for Provigo and an auditor for Ernst & Young until 1984.[4] In 1985, Legault became the director of finance and administration at Nationair Canada and then marketing director at Quebecair. He then co-founded Air Transat in 1986, and was until 1997 its chief executive officer.[5] The airline quickly became one of the largest airline companies in Canada offering charter flights. From 1995 to 1998, Legault sat on the boards of various companies, including Provigo Inc., Culinar, Sico, Technilab Inc. and Bestar Inc.,[6] and the Marc-Aurèle Fortin private museum.[7]

Political career[edit]

Parti Québécois[edit]

After his 1998 election, Legault was appointed by Lucien Bouchard as minister for industry and commerce. He was later named the minister of education.

When Bouchard resigned, Legault supported Bernard Landry.

Landry appointed Legault as minister of education and later as minister of health and social services. He was re-elected in 2003 while the PQ lost to the Quebec Liberal Party. He remained on the PQ front bench as the critic for economics, economic development, and finances.

Legault endorsed Richard Legendre in the 2005 PQ leadership election, which was won by André Boisclair. After his re-election in 2007, Legault was renamed the PQ critic for economic development and finances.

Legault was re-elected in the 2008 election but announced on June 25, 2009, that he would retire from politics.[8][9] He was seen by some political analysts at the time as a potential contender in a future leadership election.[10] However, some Liberals thought that he could replace Jean Charest, then premier.[11]

Coalition Avenir Québec[edit]

In February 2011, Legault co-founded with Charles Sirois a new political movement called the "Coalition pour l'avenir du Québec" ("Coalition for the Future of Quebec").[12][13] In November 2011 it became an official party under the name Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ).[14] The CAQ aims to bring together like-minded voters in a single party regardless of their views on Quebec nationalism, Quebec federalism and Quebec autonomism. In a break with his sovereigntist past, Legault promised that a CAQ government would never hold a referendum on sovereignty.[15] Soon after retiring from politics, he became disenchanted with sovereigntism and resigned from the PQ.[16] He concluded that Quebec belongs within Canada but has vowed that a CAQ government would "explore all options" to defend Quebec's interests and demand greater power.[17]

The party finished third in the 2012 general election, winning 19 seats and 27.05 percent of the vote.[18] In the 2014 general election, the CAQ finished third again, but increased their seat count to 22.[19][20]

In the 2018 general election on October 1, Legault led the CAQ to a gain of 53 seats for a total of 74, vaulting the CAQ from third place to a majority of 11 and making Legault the premier of Quebec.[21] He is the first premier in 48 years to not hail from the Liberals or Parti Québécois.

Legault led the CAQ again in the 2022 general election to a second straight majority. Legault gained 14 seats in the election, expanding his caucus.[22]

Premier of Quebec (2018–present)[edit]

Andrew Scheer with Legault in 2018

On October 18, 2018, Legault was sworn in as Premier of Quebec, marking the end of nearly 50 years of Liberal and Parti Québécois rule in the province.[23]

Religious symbols[edit]

Having run on the platform during the 2018 election, on March 28, 2019, the Quebec government tabled its long-awaited secularism bill. Bill 21, entitled "An Act respecting the laicity of the State", if made law, would ban public workers in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols. This would include any public employee who carries a weapon, including police officers, courthouse constables, bodyguards, prison guards and wildlife officers, as well as Crown prosecutors, government lawyers and judges, school principals, vice-principals and teachers.[24] The bill invoked notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to prevent it from being overturned by the courts.[25]

The bill passed on June 17 by a 73–35 vote, with backing of the Parti Québécois while the Liberals and Quebec Solidaire were opposed. The Coalition Avenir Quebec government also introduced a last-minute amendment toughening the law, making provisions for a minister to verify that it is being obeyed and to demand corrective measures if necessary.[26][27]


Under Legault CAQ government, he has decreased immigration numbers to 40,000 in 2019, and he has also in 2019 introduced a values test for immigrants.[28]

In 2019, during a European Trip to France, Legault said he wants more French and other European immigrants to come to Quebec with the overall immigration numbers cut.[29]

In August 2019, Legault said to businesses who called for an increase in immigration that they need to boost wages if they want to find workers.[30][31][32]

In December 2019, during a meeting with Governor of California Gavin Newsom, Legault declared that all French-Canadians are Catholic.[33][34]

In June 2022, Legault stated he was against multiculturalism, in favor of supporting interculturalism and integration, which would include immigrants assimilating into Quebec and learning French.[35][36][37]


In May 2022, The CAQ government of Legault passed Bill 96, with 78 MNAs in favour (from the CAQ and Québec solidaire) and 29 against (from the Liberal Party and Parti Québécois).[38] The bill strengthens the 1970s Charter of the French Language bill.

In that same year Legault caused some controversy when he stated that Quebec risked losing French as an official language if Quebec doesn't have more control over immigration policy. He compared it to the U.S. state of Louisiana which once spoke French as a majority.[39][40][41]

2019 apology to Indigenous peoples[edit]

Legault apologized to First Nations and Inuit in October 2019 for discrimination they suffered in dealing with the state, noting the Government of Quebec had failed in its duty to them. He acknowledged that apologies are but a first step, and more work needs to be done to break down barriers and rectify long-standing problems.[42]

COVID-19 response[edit]

During the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak, Legault organized daily press conferences with Director of Public Health Horacio Arruda and Minister of Health Danielle McCann, starting March 12, to encourage the population to stay home and keep hygiene measures that allegedly would help suppress spread of the virus. In May, Canada's chief science adviser, Mona Nemer, criticized Quebec for its lack of testing and tracing strategy.[43]

Environmental targets[edit]

Legault during the opening ceremony of the COP15 in Montreal (2022)

In November 2020, Legault announced the government's plan to tackle climate change, which would involve a ban on the sale of new gas-powered vehicles from 2035 (commercial vehicles and second-hand cars would be exempt). Some experts have said that rather than focusing on electric vehicles, more funds should be committed to public transit and climate change mitigation.[44]


The Legault government passed Bill 40 on February 8, 2020.[45] This expropriated the province's 60 French school boards, turning them into school service centres.[46]

Bill 40 was passed to expropriate school boards that have been running in English style for 175 years.[46] This did not include nine English school boards. But the move is seen as further undermining English-language education in the province.[45]

Legault with California Governor Gavin Newsom in Sacramento, December 2019

In April 2022, following a controversy over academic freedom at the University of Ottawa, the Legault government tabled Bill 32, a bill on Academic freedom in universities.[47][48] The bill passed in June 2022.[49]

Buy Local initiative[edit]

Legault and his government has promoted a buy local campaign. His government in early 2020 formed an online directory of local Quebec retailers in a website called Le Panier Bleu — or Blue Basket. The aim of Le Panier Bleu is to be a local version and a competitor to Amazon to sell Quebec products.[50][51] As early as November 2019 Legault supported calls for the creation of a Quebec version of Amazon, which his economy minister described as a way to serve nationalist customers.[52][53]

Labor relations[edit]

In December 2023, half a million public sector workers went on strike.[54] The provincial government has said it hopes to reach a deal with the unions before 2024.[55]

Pro-Palestinian protests[edit]

In May 2024, Legault criticized pro-Palestinian protests on university campuses, saying police should dismantle an "illegal" pro-Palestinian encampment at Montreal’s McGill University.[56]


  • (2013) Cap sur un Québec gagnant: le projet Saint-Laurent[57]

Personal life[edit]

Legault married Isabelle Brais on March 7, 1992, in Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec,[58] and has two children.[59]

Legault is Catholic.[34]

Awards and honours[edit]

Legault has been a Fellow of the Ordre des comptables agréés du Québec (Order of Chartered Accountants of Québec) since 2000.[7]


  1. ^ Baillargeon, Stéphane (May 17, 2019). ""C'est beaucoup d'émotions pour moi", dit François Legault" ["It's a lot of emotion for me," says François Legault]. Le Devoir (in French). Montreal, Quebec. Retrieved January 25, 2024.
  2. ^ "Quebec election: François Legault is a pragmatist at heart | Montreal Gazette". September 22, 2018.
  3. ^ Macpherson, Don (October 14, 2010). "Legault's movement would fill a vacuum in Quebec". The Gazette (Montreal). Archived from the original on January 19, 2013. Retrieved 2012-01-23.
  4. ^ "Legault says he's not going to give up". Metro. April 5, 2014. Archived from the original on April 2, 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-20.
  5. ^ "CAQ leader François Legault wins riding". Global News. April 7, 2014. Retrieved 2016-03-20.
  6. ^ "François Legault - Assemblée nationale du Québec". www.assnat.qc.ca (in French). Retrieved 2021-01-07.
  7. ^ a b "François Legault". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  8. ^ Hamilton, Graeme (June 26, 2009). "Legault resignation latest blow for PQ". National Post. Montreal, Quebec. Retrieved January 25, 2024.
  9. ^ "PQ critic Legault leaving politics". CBC News. Montreal, Quebec. June 25, 2009. Archived from the original on December 5, 2023. Retrieved January 25, 2024.
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  13. ^ "Francois Legault unveils Coalition for the Future". CTV News. February 21, 2011. Retrieved 2015-11-22.
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  18. ^ "Pauline Marois to become Quebec's 1st female premier". Cbc.ca. September 4, 2012. Retrieved 2015-11-22.
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  20. ^ "Many of the CAQ's gains in ridings come at the PQ's expense". The Globe and Mail. April 7, 2014. Retrieved 2015-11-22.
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  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-03-29. Retrieved 2019-03-29.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-03-29. Retrieved 2019-03-29.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  26. ^ Perreaux, Les (16 June 2019). "Quebec passes bill banning public servants from wearing religious symbols". The Globe and Mail.
  27. ^ "Quebec bans religious symbols for state workers in new law". Global News.
  28. ^ Patriquin, Martin (January 29, 2019). "Quebec nationalism could once claim to be colour- and country-blind. Not anymore". Cbc.ca. Retrieved December 11, 2019.
  29. ^ "As Quebec cuts immigration, premier calls for more newcomers from Europe". Cbc.ca.
  30. ^ "Quebec premier tells businesses to boost wages if they want to find workers - Montreal | Globalnews.ca".
  31. ^ "Legault holds line on immigration number, urges companies to boost wages". Montrealgazette.com.
  32. ^ "Legault tells Quebec employers to boost wages to attract talent - The Globe and Mail". The Globe and Mail. 14 August 2019.
  33. ^ "Quebec Premier François Legault defends telling California governor 'all' French-Canadians are Catholic". Montreal.ctvnews.ca. 12 December 2019.
  34. ^ a b "'All French Canadians' are Catholic, Quebec premier tells governor of California". Cbc.ca.
  35. ^ Madger, Jason (24 June 2022). "Legault says he's against multiculturalism because 'it's important to have culture where we integrate'". Montreal Gazette.
  36. ^ "CityNews". Montreal.citynews.ca. 28 June 2022. Retrieved 17 July 2022.
  37. ^ "Quebec's premier rejects multiculturalism as province celebrates Fête nationale". Cbc.ca. Retrieved 17 July 2022.
  38. ^ "Language law Bill 96 adopted, promising sweeping changes for Quebec". Montreal. 2022-05-24. Retrieved 2022-05-25.
  39. ^ Lowrie, Morgan (June 2022). "Quebec Premier Francois Legault accused of stoking immigration fears after speech at CAQ convention". The Globe and Mail.
  40. ^ "Quebec is no Louisiana, experts say as premier accused of stoking immigration fears | Globalnews.ca".
  41. ^ "Quebec is no Louisiana, experts say, as premier accused of stoking immigration fears". June 2022.
  42. ^ Quebec's First Nations and Inuit people [sic] receive apology from Premier Legault. A report found that Indigenous communities suffered systemic racism in the province. Archived 2020-07-31 at the Wayback Machine, Huffington Post, October 2, 2019
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  44. ^ "Quebec's push to go electric won't get province to emission reduction targets, experts say". Cbc.ca. Retrieved 2020-11-22.
  45. ^ a b Bourhis, Richard (24 February 2020). "Québec's Bill 40 further undermines the province's English-language school system". The Conversation. Retrieved 2020-03-27.
  46. ^ a b "Quebec passes education reforms abolishing school boards". CBC News. February 8, 2020. Retrieved 2020-04-06.
  47. ^ "Quebec moves to shore up academic freedom with controversial bill". CBC News. 2022-04-06. Archived from the original on 2023-06-08.
  48. ^ "Quebec tables Bill 32 to protect academic freedom in universities".
  49. ^ "Quebec passes controversial bill to protect academic freedom". 3 June 2022.
  50. ^ Rastello, Sandrine (27 April 2020). "A fight against Amazon becomes a state matter in Quebec". Financial Post.
  51. ^ "A Fight Against Amazon Becomes a State Matter in Quebec". Au.finance.yahoo.com. 27 April 2020.
  52. ^ "Legault open to idea of 'Amazon Quebec' to promote local retailers - Montreal". Globalnews.ca.
  53. ^ "Legault not ruling out a 'Quebec Amazon' to promote local retailers". Theglobeandmail.com. Retrieved 2021-06-02.
  54. ^ "More than half a million Quebec public-sector workers are on strike. Here's what to know". The Globe and Mail. 2023-12-13. Retrieved 2023-12-20.
  55. ^ "Quebec public sector unions threaten unlimited strike in new year - Montreal | Globalnews.ca". Global News. Retrieved 2023-12-20.
  56. ^ "Quebec premier says police should dismantle pro-Palestinian student camp". The Guardian. 3 May 2024.
  57. ^ Legault, François (2013). Cap sur un Québec gagnant: le projet Saint-Laurent (in French). Boréal. ISBN 978-2-7646-2284-1.
  58. ^ "Déclaration de mariage" (in French). Ministry of Health and Social Services. March 7, 1992. Retrieved March 19, 2020 – via Institut généalogique Drouin.
  59. ^ "François Legault biography". Thestar.com. Retrieved 2018-09-30.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Education (Quebec)
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Health and Social Services (Quebec)
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Roger Bertrand
Minister of Industry and Commerce
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Science and Technology
Succeeded by
Preceded by Official Opposition's Shadow Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
Preceded by
First leader
Leader of Coalition Avenir Québec
Succeeded by