Pierre Bélanger

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Pierre Bélanger (born April 23, 1960) is a Canadian lawyer and politician in the province of Quebec. Bélanger was a Parti Québécois (PQ) member of the National Assembly of Quebec from 1992 to 1998 and was a cabinet minister in the government of Lucien Bouchard.

Early life and career[edit]

Bélanger was born in Montreal. He received a law degree from the Université de Montréal in 1982, was admitted to the Bar of Quebec the following year, and has practised commercial and civil law with the firm Bélanger and Bélanger.[1]


Opposition member

Bélanger was first elected to the Quebec legislature in a by-election held in the Montreal division of Anjou on January 20, 1992. The seat had previously been held by the Quebec Liberal Party, and Bélanger's election was regarded as demonstrating increased support for Quebec sovereignty.[2]

The Liberal Party held a majority in the legislature during this period; Bélanger served with the official opposition and was his party's justice critic.[3] He promised that the PQ, if elected, would appoint more members of minority communities to Quebec's judiciary.[4]

Government member and junior cabinet minister

Bélanger was re-elected by a narrow margin in the 1994 provincial election. The PQ won a majority government in the election, and Bélanger served as a deputy speaker of the assembly for the next two years.[1][5] When Lucien Bouchard became premier of Quebec on January 29, 1996, he promoted Bélanger to government house leader and minister responsible for electoral and parliamentary reform.[6]

In August 1996, Bélanger complained that English/French bilingual signs were proliferating in both the English and French areas of Montreal. (The PQ has historically supported French-only signs as a means of promoting the French language in Quebec.)[7] The following year, he announced that the Bouchard government would appeal a Quebec Superior Court ruling that the province had no jurisdiction over acts committed by people based outside Quebec in the 1995 referendum on sovereignty. This ruling pertained to four persons and groups based in Ontario who transported people to a Canadian federalist rally in Montreal shortly before election day.[8]

Bélanger defended the harsh austerity measures in the Bouchard government's 1997 budget, saying that the government's credibility would be judged by its fiscal management.[9]

Minister of Public Security

Bélanger was promoted to a full cabinet position on August 25, 1997, as minister of public security.[10] Shortly after his appointment, he resolved a labour dispute with Quebec's jail guards by permitting the guards to wear bulletproof vests and carry weapons when transporting prisoners.[11] Later in the year, he criticized other Canadian provinces for not doing enough to combat biker gangs.[12]

In response to the North American ice storm of 1998, Bélanger requested and received permission from the Canadian government for Canadian Forces to act as police officers to prevent looting in Montreal. This was the first time that Canadian soldiers had patrolled the streets of Montreal since the 1970 FLQ crisis, and some journalists noted the irony that this would take place under a sovereigntist government.[13] Bélanger also served on an emergency response committee during the ice storm and later introduced legislation to create auxiliary reserve teams to deal with future natural disasters.[14]

In April 1998, Bélanger outlined a strategy for dealing with Quebec's contraband cigarette trade. The plan included both a crackdown on the illicit trade and negotiated tax collection agreements with the province's indigenous communities.[15]

Bélanger also concluded an agreement with the Kahnawake Mohawk community to permit legal mixed boxing events; the government had previously banned extreme fighting events in Kahnawake on the grounds that the competition was too brutal.[16] In June 1998, he concluded a tripartate policing agreement with the Canadian government and the Listuguj Mi'gmaq First Nation.[17]

One of Bélanger's last actions in cabinet was to approve the appointment of Michel Sarrazin as Montreal's police chief.[18]


Bélanger was defeated in the 1998 provincial election, losing to Liberal candidate Jean-Sébastien Lamoureux by 143 votes. He was the only PQ cabinet minister to be defeated in this election and stood down from cabinet on December 15, 1998.[1][19][20] (Lamoureux would late resign from the legislature in 2001, after a former campaign workers was convicted of bribing people to vote several times in the 1998 election using false names. Lamoureux himself was not implicated in the scandal. Bélanger did not contest the by-election that followed, though at one stage he complained that it was "easier to vote twice in Quebec than to rent a video at a video store without a membership card."[21])

Canadian federal politics

Bélanger voted for the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in the 1988 federal election. In the 1993 election, he campaigned with Bloc Québécois (BQ) candidate Roger Pomerleau.[22]

During the 1997 federal election, Bélanger criticized BQ leader Gilles Duceppe statement's that a vote in favour of Quebec sovereignty would not necessarily finalize Quebec's status as an independent country. He responded to Duceppe's remark by saying, "Once we have a Yes vote on the sovereignty issue in the next referendum, I think the question of Quebec will be settled and that we will be a sovereign state."[23]

Subsequent career[edit]

Bélanger returned to his legal practice after leaving the legislature and served as president of the Commission des services juridiques from 1999 to 2004.[1] He ran for mayor of the east-end borough of Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve in the 2005 Montreal municipal election as a candidate of the Montreal mayor Gérald Tremblay's Montreal Island Citizens Union, but was defeated.[24]

Electoral record[edit]

2005 Montreal municipal election results: Borough Mayor, Mercier–Hochelaga–Maisonneuve

Quebec general election, 1998: Anjou
Party Candidate Votes %
Liberal Jean-Sébastien Lamoureux 12,097 44.51
Parti Québécois Pierre Bélanger 11,954 43.98
Action démocratique Michel Lalonde 2,825 10.39
Socialist Democracy Bernard Beaulieu 192 0.71
Innovator Roberto Barba 68 0.25
Communist Teresa Vergara 44 0.16
Total valid votes 27,180 98.61
Total rejected ballots 384 1.39
Turnout 27,564 82.31
Electors 33,488
Source: Official Results, Le Directeur général des élections du Québec.
Quebec general election, 1994: Anjou
Party Candidate Votes %
Parti Québécois Pierre Bélanger 12,453 46.60
Liberal Richard Quirion 11,697 43.77
Action démocratique Michel Lalonde 1,753 6.56
New Democratic Richard Duval 537 2.01
Natural Law Gilles Raymond 188 0.70
Innovator Nicole Migneault 98 0.37
Total valid votes 26,726 98.02
Total rejected ballots 539 1.98
Turnout 27,265 85.53
Electors 31,878
Source: Official Results, Le Directeur général des élections du Québec.
Quebec provincial by-election, January 20, 1992: Anjou
Party Candidate Votes %
Parti Québécois Pierre Bélanger 8,619 52.14
Liberal Charlotte Goudreault 7,342 44.41
New Democratic Daniel Boucher 283 1.71
Independent Patrice Fortin 143 0.87
United Social Credit Emilien Martel 61 0.37
N/A (Communist League) Michel Prairie 45 0.27
Independent Jolly Taylor 38 0.23
Total valid votes 16,531 98.73
Total rejected ballots 213 1.27
Turnout 16,744 57.65
Electors 29,043
Source: Official Results, Le Directeur général des élections du Québec.


  1. ^ a b c d "Biography". Dictionnaire des parlementaires du Québec de 1792 à nos jours (in French). National Assembly of Quebec. 
  2. ^ Robert McKenzie, "By-election in Montreal seen as PQ bellwether," Toronto Star, 20 January 1992, A9; Patricia Poirier, "Parti Quebecois wins by-election," Globe and Mail, 21 January 1992, A2; "Win boosts PQ's hopes," Kitchener-Waterloo Record, 21 January 1992, A1; Sandro Contenta, "PQ sweeps Montreal by-election," Toronto Star, 21 January 1992, A9; Robert McKenzie, "By-election bodes ill for Quebec Liberals," Toronto Star, 28 January 1992, A15.
  3. ^ "Hearings set for 2 judges charged with misconduct," Kitchener-Waterloo Record, 29 December 1993, B4.
  4. ^ "PQ favors integrating minorities over multiculturalism, Landry says," Kitchener-Waterloo Record, 2 May 1994, A05.
  5. ^ Philip Authier, "Assembly session ends in rancor," Montreal Gazette, 6 February 1995, A4.
  6. ^ "The Quebec cabinet," Globe and Mail, 30 January 1996, A7.
  7. ^ "PQ is out of control: Johnson: Bouchard blamed for latest flareup over language," Hamilton Spectator, 17 August 1996, A5.
  8. ^ Rheal Seguin, "Quebec considering change to election-campaign laws," Globe and Mail, 4 April 1997, A15; "Quebec to appeal dismissal of referendum charges," Globe and Mail, 5 April 1997, A5.
  9. ^ "Quebec faces tough budget," Kitchener-Waterloo Record, 11 March 1997, D12.
  10. ^ "Quebec cabinet," Globe and Mail, 26 August 1997, A4.
  11. ^ "Quebec's provincial jail guards to be better protected," Associated Press Newswires, 10 September 1997, 19:05; "Guards' one-day walkout is over," Kitchener-Waterloo Record, 10 September 1997, A3; Andre Picard and Rheal Seguin, "Quebec guards end their strike Minister pledges greater security," Globe and Mail, 11 September 1997, A10.
  12. ^ Jack Branswell, "National registry for pedophiles eyed," Winnipeg Free Press, 6 December 1997, C7.
  13. ^ "Statement By Federal Solicitor General Andy Scott: Quebec Request For Military Assistance To Police," Canada NewsWire, 13 January 1998, 20:24; Hugh Winsor, "Why Quebec welcomed the troops," Globe and Mail, 16 January 1998, A4.
  14. ^ Robert McKenzie, "Bouchard sails skilfully through the storm," Toronto Star, 17 January 1998, E1; Rheal Seguin, "Quebec prepares for next storm," Globe and Mail, 4 February 1998, A5; Robert McKenzie, "Quebec government plans a disaster response corps," Toronto Star, 4 February 1998, A6; Campbell Clark, "Disaster plan to be law: Bill tabled to force towns to have emergency procedures," Montreal Gazette, 4 February 1998, A5.
  15. ^ Campbell Clark, "Quebec vows crackdown on illicit smokes," Montreal Gazette, 22 April 1998, A7; Rheal Seguin, "Quebec forms battle plan against cancer," Globe and Mail, 22 April 1998, A3.
  16. ^ Campbell Clark, "`Extreme' bout won't be held: minister: Slated for Saturday in Kahnawake," Montreal Gazette, 29 April 1998, A4; Susan Semanek and Campbell Clark, "Extreme bout off, pending new rules," Montreal Gazette, 30 April 1998, A5; "Cabinet Du Ministre De La Securite Publique - Mohawk Council Of Kahnawake - Agreement Between Quebec And Kahnawake Regarding Professional Combat Sport," Canada NewsWire, 22 May 1998, 17:29. Robert Perreault, who served as public security minister before Bélanger, had worked with law enforcement officers in Kahnawake in 1997 to prevent a mixed martial arts event from taking place. See "Extreme Fighting Pay-Per-View Matches Will Go On Despite Government Opposition; Mohawks Form Athletic Commission To Regulate Matches Near Montreal," Business Wire, 25 April 1996, 19:20; and Tu Thanh Ha, "Mohawk police, council face off over bouts Peacekeepers' leader insists team not taking sides by arresting Extreme Fighters," Globe and Mail, 29 April 1996, A1.
  17. ^ "Listuguj MI'Gmaq First Nation, Quebec And Canada Announce New Tripartite Policing Agreement In Quebec," Canada NewsWire, 10 June 1998, 10:32.
  18. ^ "New police chief approved," Globe and Mail, 10 September 1998, A10; Campbell Clark, "Top cop not nixed: Minister denies charge," Montreal Gazette, 10 September 1998, A3.
  19. ^ Monique Beaudoin, "Only minister to lose finally out of hot seat: Ice-storm fallout crushed Public Security Minister Belanger," Montreal Gazette, 2 December 1998, A13; Ingrid Peritz, "Quebec seeks vote-buying inquiry," Globe and Mail, 25 February 1999, A6
  20. ^ Paul Cherry, "Belanger loses in Anjou: Minister edged out as Liberals capture neighbouring ridings," Montreal Gazette, 1 December 1998, B8.
  21. ^ "Accusations of fraud in last Quebec elections," Agence France-Presse, 25 February 1999; Ingrid Peritz, "Quebec bill would require voters to show ID," Globe and Mail, 17 March 1999, A2; "Man fined for paying poor people to vote for Liberals in 1998 Quebec election," Canadian Press, 8 May 2001, 21:45; "Former Liberal party worker fined $10,000 for fraud in 1998 Quebec election," Canadian Press, 18 September 2001, 20:48; Rheal Seguin, "Quebec Liberal resigns post over fraud," Globe and Mail, 20 September 2001, A16.
  22. ^ "Quebec municipal elections affect federal campaigns," Globe and Mail, 4 October 1993, A10.
  23. ^ Rheal Seguin, "Duceppe's remarks add to BQ's woes," Globe and Mail, 17 May 1997, A1.
  24. ^ Michelle Lalonde, "East-end residents expect to reap merger benefits: Mayoral candidate Belanger says borough must be wary of projects dumped on area," Montreal Gazette, 23 October 2005, A5; "Election 2005 Results: Montreal & Suburbs," Montreal Gazette, 7 November 2005, A10.

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