Guy Rivard

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Guy Rivard (born August 1, 1936) is a Canadian former politician in the province of Quebec. Rivard served in the National Assembly of Quebec from 1985 to 1994 as a member of the Liberal Party and was a junior minister in the government of Robert Bourassa. His handling of Quebec's language laws in 1989 attracted national attention.

Early life and career[edit]

Rivard was born in Trois-Rivières and received his early education in that city. He attended the Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf from 1952 to 1956 and earned a medical degree at the Université de Montréal between 1956 and 1961. He specialized in pediatrics in Montreal, and later trained in respiratory illnesses at Yale University from 1964 to 1967. In 1977, he received a diploma from the Executive Program for Health Systems Management at the Harvard Business School.

Rivard was a pediatrician at the Hopital Sainte-Justine in Montreal from 1967 to 1976 and was its director of professional services from 1976 to 1980. He also worked in various capacities at the Université de Montréal from 1967 to 1982, when he entered public administration as the deputy minister for Social Affairs in the Government of Quebec. After serving in this capacity for two years, he returned to academia in 1984-85.[1]

Political career[edit]

Rivard was elected to the National Assembly of Quebec in the 1985 provincial election, winning in the Montreal division of Rosemont. The Liberals won a majority government in this election, and Rivard entered the legislature as a backbench supporter of Robert Bourassa's government. On March 31, 1988, he was appointed as minister responsible for Cultural Affairs and minister responsible for French language legislation.

This appointment came at a time when linguistic tensions were increasing in Quebec, and the Globe and Mail newspaper described his new position as "the hottest political seat in the province." Rivard called himself an "honest broker" and indicated that he wanted to act "like a mediator, a gatherer of various groups."[2] He spoke before the anglophone lobby Alliance Quebec in May 1988, calling for greater cooperation among francophone and anglophone Quebecers.[3]

Most of the controversy surrounding Quebec's language laws in this period was focused on the Charter of the French Language, popularly known as Bill 101. This legislation was enacted by the Parti Québécois government of René Lévesque in 1977, and one of its more controversial provisions was a restriction on the use of languages other than French on commercial signs. In December 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down three sections of the law as violating the provisions for freedom of expression set out in the Constitution of Canada. The Quebec government responded by amending the legislation to prohibit languages other than French on outdoor commercial and public signs, while permitting indoor signs to be bilingual or multilingual provided the French text was dominant.[4] This decision met with opposition from both the anglophone and francophone communities: three anglophone cabinet ministers resigned from the Bourassa government in protest, while the opposition Parti Québécois attacked the allowance of indoor bilingual signs as an assault on the French language.[5] Under the new legislation, Rivard was given ministerial responsibility for determining regulations to enforce the language law. This was previously the responsibility of the Office de la Langue Francaise, a semi-independent body appointed by the government.[6]

Rivard's handling of the language legislation was criticized in some circles, and a Toronto Star article in February 1989 described him as "inexperienced, easily flustered, naive, a trifle pedantic" and "the kind of cabinet minister that a hungry opposition dreams about."[7] On March 3, Rivard was reassigned to the lower-profile position of minister responsible for Technology while cabinet heavyweight Claude Ryan took responsibility for language.[8]

Rivard was narrowly re-elected in the 1989 provincial election, defeating Parti Québécois challenger Sylvain Simard by only 133 votes. On October 11, he was reassigned again as Minister responsible for the Francophonie. He represented Quebec at the first inauguration of Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president of Haiti in 1991.[9] In the same year, he expressed skepticism about Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's plans to link foreign aid to human rights. While affirming that Quebec would assist countries moving toward democracy, he also said that countries with dubious human rights records should not be cut off entirely.[10] Rivard received additional responsibility as minister responsible for International Affairs on May 27, 1992.

Robert Bourassa announced his retirement as Premier of Quebec and Liberal Party leader in 1993, and Rivard supported Daniel Johnson's successful campaign to become Bourassa's successor.[11] Rivard later announced that he would not seek re-election to the legislature, and he stepped down from cabinet when Johnson became premier on January 11, 1994.[12]

After politics[edit]

Rivard was founding president of the firm BioTransTech and was president of the Groupe Santé International from 1994 to 2003. He was also a health consultant and administrator from 1999 to 2005, when he retired. He was appointed to the board of the Centre de santé et de services sociaux du Sud-Ouest-Verdun in 2006, and has also served as vice-president of the Association internationale des familles Rivard.[1]

Electoral record[edit]

Quebec general election, 1989: Rosemont
Party Candidate Votes %
Liberal Guy Rivard 13,121 46.97
Parti Québécois Sylvain Simard 12,988 46.50
New Democratic Pierre Dion 620 2.22
Progressive Conservative Lyse T. Giguère 298 1.07
Parti indépendantiste Richard Belleau 278 1.00
Workers Régis Beaulieu 256 0.92
Commonwealth of Canada Normand Bélanger 134 0.48
United Social Credit Jean-Paul Poulin 92 0.33
Marxist–Leninist France Tremblay 79 0.28
Socialist Movement Jean-Yves Desgagnés 67 0.24
Total valid votes 27,933
Rejected and declined votes 862
Turnout 28,795 75.65
Electors on the lists 38,064
Source: Official Results, Le Directeur général des élections du Québec.


Quebec general election, 1985: Rosemont
Party Candidate Votes %
Liberal Guy Rivard 14,810 52.65
Parti Québécois Lise Denis 11,745 41.75
New Democratic Roger Lamarre 742 2.64
Parti indépendantiste Louise Brouillet 394 1.40
Humanist Sylvie Lepage 183 0.65
United Social Credit Jean-Paul Poulin 104 0.37
Communist Claude Demers 83 0.30
Commonwealth of Canada Louis Julien 43 0.15
Christian Socialist Carlos Zencovich 27 0.10
Total valid votes 28,131
Rejected and declined votes 485
Turnout 28,616 75.11
Electors on the lists 38,101

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Biography". Dictionnaire des parlementaires du Québec de 1792 à nos jours (in French). National Assembly of Quebec. 
  2. ^ Penny MacRae, "Doctor tackles Quebec language ills," Toronto Star, 16 May 1988, A8 ["honest broker"]; Benoit Aubin, "Bourassa appoints minister to look after language law," Globe and Mail, 1 April 1988, A4.
  3. ^ "Minister asks 'family' to stop language feud," Globe and Mail, 30 May 1988, A8.
  4. ^ Benoit Aubin, "Quebec language bill is unveiled after a day of delay and filibuster," Globe and Mail, 20 December 1988, A1.
  5. ^ Robert McKenzie, "3 Liberals resign: 'Rights are rights' English-speaking ministers quit over Quebec sign bill," Toronto Star, 21 December 1988, A1.
  6. ^ Benoit Aubin, "Language bill given royal assent," Toronto Star, 23 December 1988, A1.
  7. ^ Robert McKenzie, "It's been a heady three weeks for Premier Robert Bourassa," Toronto Star, 2 February 1989, A24.
  8. ^ Robert McKenzie, "Bourassa axes his minister of language," Toronto Star, 3 March 1989, A3.
  9. ^ "People's priest set to be Haiti's leader," Toronto Star, 7 February 1991, A20.
  10. ^ Rheal Seguin, "PM takes rights campaign to Paris," Globe and Mail, 18 November 1991, A1.
  11. ^ "Bourassa's deputy won't seek top job," Toronto Star, 30 September 1993, A17.
  12. ^ Don Macpherson, "Quebec Liberals leaving a sinking ship," Hamilton Spectator, 20 November 1993, A12.