François Legault

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François Legault

François Legault (portraitcrop).jpg
Legault in 2015
32nd Premier of Quebec
Assumed office
October 18, 2018
MonarchElizabeth II
Lieutenant GovernorJ. Michel Doyon
DeputyGeneviève Guilbault
Preceded byPhilippe Couillard
Leader of the Coalition Avenir Québec
Assumed office
November 4, 2011
Preceded byPosition established
Member of the National Assembly of Quebec for L'Assomption
Assumed office
September 4, 2012
Preceded byScott McKay
Member of the National Assembly of Quebec for Rousseau
In office
December 15, 1998 – June 25, 2009
Preceded byLévis Brien
Succeeded byNicolas Marceau
Personal details
Joseph Léo François Legault

(1957-05-26) May 26, 1957 (age 63)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Political partyCoalition Avenir Québec (2011–present)
Other political
Parti Québécois (1998–2009)
Isabelle Brais
(m. 1992)
ResidenceÉdifice Price
Alma materHEC Montréal
Net worth$10,000,000
PortfolioFinances, Economic Development

Joseph Léo François Legault (pronounced [fʁɑ̃swa ləɡo]; born May 26, 1957) is a Canadian politician serving as Premier of Quebec since 2018; the 32nd since Confederation. A member of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), he has led the party since its founding in 2011. Legault sits as a member of the National Assembly (MNA) for the Lanaudière region riding of L'Assomption. Prior to entering politics, he was the co-founder of the Canadian airline Air Transat.[1]

Legault 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 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 at the 2012 Quebec provincial election as the MNA for L'Assomption, a suburb of Montreal. He was reelected in the 2014 election and won 2018 election. Legault is the first premier not be a member 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 Québécair. He co-founded Air Transat in 1986 after being the director of marketing at Quebecair.[5] He was the chief executive officer of that company until 1997. Air Transat 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, it was said that Legault would support Pauline Marois against Bernard Landry. He later clarified his position as being in favour of Landry's candidacy.

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, he was renamed the PQ critic for economic development and finances.

Legault was re-elected in the 2008 elections but announced on June 25, 2009, that 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 members of the 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 will never hold a referendum on sovereignty.[15] Soon after retiring from politics, he had resigned from the PQ as well after becoming disenchanted with sovereigntism.[16] He now believes 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% 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 becoming the Premier of Quebec.[21] He is the first premier in 48 years to not hail from the Liberals or Parti Québécois, and the province's first centre-right premier since the Union Nationale's last government left office in 1970.

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.[22]

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.[23]

The government has said that it would invoke section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the notwithstanding clause) so as to prevent it from being overturned by the courts.[24]

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.[25][26]


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.[27]

2019 apology to Indigenous peoples[edit]

Legault apologized to First Nations and Inuit people in October 2019 for discrimination they suffered in dealing with the state, noting the Province 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.[28]

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 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.[29]

Environmental targets[edit]

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 that focusing on electric vehicles, more funds should be committed to public transit and climate change mitigation.[30]

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.[31][32] 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.[33][34]

Personal life[edit]

Legault married Isabelle Brais on March 7, 1992, in Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec,[35] and has two children.[36] He was raised in the Montreal suburb of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue.

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. ^ "Coalition avenir Québec". Directeur général des élections du Québec. Retrieved 2012-02-04.[permanent dead link]
  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". (in French). Retrieved 2021-01-07.
  7. ^ a b "François Legault". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  8. ^ "Legault resignation latest blow for PQ". National Post. June 25, 2009.[dead link]
  9. ^ "PQ critic Legault leaving politics". CBC News. June 25, 2009. Retrieved 2015-11-22.
  10. ^ Legault, Josée (June 25, 2009). "It is likely we haven't seen the end of François Legault". The Gazette. Montreal. Archived from the original on January 17, 2016. Retrieved 2015-11-22.
  11. ^ "Behind the scenes of the CAQ -". 2012-04-16. Retrieved 2018-10-06.
  12. ^ "Ex-PQ minister launches coalition". CBC News. February 21, 2011. Retrieved 2015-11-22.
  13. ^ "Francois Legault unveils Coalition for the Future". CTV News. February 21, 2011. Retrieved 2015-11-22.
  14. ^ "Quebec gets new political party". CBC News. November 14, 2011. Retrieved 2015-11-22.
  15. ^ "Francois Legault says CAQ would 'never' hold a referendum". CTV News. April 10, 2014. Retrieved 2015-11-22.
  16. ^ Keating, Cecilia (2 October 2018). "What just happened in Quebec? Seven things you need to know about François Legault's historic victory". National Observer. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  17. ^ Les Perraux (October 1, 2018). "Coalition Avenir Québec wins historic majority as voters soundly reject old-line Liberals, PQ". The Globe and Mail.
  18. ^ "Pauline Marois to become Quebec's 1st female premier". CBC News. September 4, 2012. Retrieved 2015-11-22.
  19. ^ "Quebec election: Liberals win majority". CBC News. April 7, 2014. Retrieved 2015-11-22.
  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.
  21. ^ "Premier-designate François Legault wants 'to make Quebec stronger within Canada' - iPolitics". iPolitics. 2018-10-02. Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  22. ^ "Change coming, Francois Legault vows as he becomes Quebec premier". October 18, 2018.
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-03-29. Retrieved 2019-03-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-03-29. Retrieved 2019-03-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ "Quebec passes bill banning public servants from wearing religious symbols" – via The Globe and Mail.
  26. ^ "Quebec bans religious symbols for state workers in new law". Global News.
  27. ^ Patriquin, Martin (January 29, 2019). "Quebec nationalism could once claim to be colour- and country-blind. Not anymore". CBC News. Retrieved December 11, 2019.
  28. ^ Quebec's First Nations and Inuit people receive apology from Premier Legault. A report found that Indigenous communities suffered systemic racism in the province., Huffington Post, October 2, 2019
  29. ^ Shingler, Benjamin (7 May 2020). "As Quebec opens up, Canada's top science adviser questions province's lack of COVID-19 testing". CBC. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  30. ^ "Quebec's push to go electric won't get province to emission reduction targets, experts say | CBC News". CBC. Retrieved 2020-11-22.
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ "Déclaration de mariage" (in French). Ministry of Health and Social Services. March 7, 1992. Retrieved March 19, 2020 – via Institut généalogique Drouin.
  36. ^ "François Legault biography | The Star". Retrieved 2018-09-30.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Pauline Marois
Minister of Education (Quebec)
Succeeded by
Sylvain Simard
Preceded by
Rémy Trudel
Minister of Health and Social Services (Quebec)
Succeeded by
Philippe Couillard
Preceded by
Roger Bertrand
Minister of Industry and Commerce
Succeeded by
Bernard Landry
Preceded by
Rita Dionne-Marsolais
Minister of Science and Technology
Succeeded by
Jean Rochon
Preceded by
Gilles Taillon (ADQ)
Official Opposition's Shadow Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
Nicolas Marceau
Preceded by
First leader
Leader of Coalition Avenir Québec
Succeeded by