Pierre Bourgault

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Pierre Bourgault in 1961

Pierre Bourgault (January 23, 1934 – June 16, 2003) was a politician and essayist, as well as an actor and journalist, from Quebec, Canada. He is most famous as a public speaker who advocated sovereignty for Quebec from Canada.


Bourgault was born in East Angus in the Estrie (Eastern Townships) region of Quebec. His father was a civil servant and his mother, a homemaker. His parents sent him to boarding school at age seven, determined that he should receive the education which they lacked. After secondary school, he briefly attended the seminary and entertained the idea of a possible entry into the priesthood, per ancestral tradition, but reneged on his obligation shortly thereafter. He is today entombed within the traditionally Catholic Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery in Montreal.[1]

Beginning in the early 1960s, he supported Quebec independence from Canada and in 1960 joined the pro-independence Rassemblement pour l'indépendance nationale. A famed and inflammatory orator, he led a number of union strikes and marches that resulted in violence. In 1964, he became leader of the RIN, and came up just short in the Duplessis riding of Northern Quebec. During the St. Jean Baptiste celebration in 1968, a demonstration for Quebec nationalism turned into a riot when other supporters threw projectiles at newly minted Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.[2][3] He and 300 others were arrested for this incident, while Trudeau's stoic response significantly helped.

In 1968, popular cabinet minister and television host René Lévesque founded Mouvement Souveraineté-Association, a more moderate sovereignist party. Lévesque rebuffed in an attempt to have the RIN included en masse, fearing the RIN's reputation for protests and violence would hurt the movement. Bourgeault disbanded the party and invited its members to join the MSA one by one and the new Ralliement national in the newly founded Parti Québécois, under Lévesque's leadership.

In the 1970 Quebec election, he was the Parti Québécois candidate in Mercier electoral district, running unsuccessfully against Liberal leader (and soon-to-be Premier) Robert Bourassa, who would become a close personal friend. Bourgault himself did not play any role in the PQ government that came to power in the 1976 Quebec election and was given a patronage appointment. He often quarreled with Lévesque, especially in the lead up to the 1980 referendum because he disagreed with the strategy on sovereignty advocated by the premier of Quebec. Bourgault leaves the PQ during the 1980s.

In his early life, he was a journalist at Montreal newspaper La Presse, and he returned to this publication in the 1990s as a columnist for Le Journal de Montréal newspaper. After 1976, he was a professor of communications at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). He was also the co-host or regular columnist of several radio shows aired on la Société Radio-Canada, the French language sector of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

In 1992, he had an acting role in the film Léolo, cast by director Jean-Claude Lauzon. to whom Bourgault was a mentor.[4] Lauzon denied he was cast for political reasons.[5]

He was openly gay, though he said in an interview for Radio-Canada a few years before his death that in his later years he chose to stop having sexual relations.

Bourgault was a fluent and eloquent speaker of English. For a brief period in the 1980s, he was a weekly columnist for Montreal's anglophone daily, The Gazette.


1970 Quebec general election: Mercier
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Robert Bourassa 15,337 46.65 +2.38
Parti Québécois Pierre Bourgault 12,276 37.34 -
Union Nationale Conrad Touchette 4,145 12.61 -29.71
Ralliement créditiste Clément Patry 1,011 3.08 -
Independent Paul Ouellet 106 0.32 -
Total valid votes 32,875 100.0
Source: Official Results, Le Directeur général des élections du Québec.
1966 Quebec general election: Duplessis
Party Candidate Votes %
Liberal Henri-Laurier Coiteux 6,673 47.77
RIN Pierre Bourgault 4,392 31.44
Union Nationale André Haince 2,709 19.39
Ralliement national Jacques Brunet 195 1.40
Total valid votes 13,969 98.12
Total rejected ballots 268 1.88
Turnout 14,237 75.46
Electors on the lists 18,867


  • Québec quitte ou double, 1970[6]
  • Oui à l'indépendance du Québec, 1977[7]
  • Le plaisir de la liberté, 1983[8]
  • Écrits polémiques 1960-1981, 1989
  • Moi, je m'en souviens, 1989[9]
  • Maintenant ou jamais, entretiens, 1990[10]
  • Écrits polémiques 1. La Politique, Montréal, VLB éditeur, 1982[11]
  • Écrits polémiques 2. La Culture, Montréal, VLB éditeur, 1983[12]
  • Écrits polémiques, Montréal, Boréale compact, 1988[13]
  • Écrits polémiques 3. La Colère, Montréal, Lanctôt éditeur, 1996[14]
  • Écrits polémiques 4. La Résistance, Montréal, VLB éditeur, 1999[15]


  • Andrée LeBel, Pierre Bourgault, le plaisir de la liberté (entretiens), Nouvelle optique, 1983.[16]
  • Jean-François Nadeau, Bourgault, Lux éditeur, 2013.[17]


  • Jean-Claude Labrecque, Le RIN, Production Virage/Télé-Québec, 2002.[18]
  • Manuel Foglia, Paroles et liberté, Productions J, 2007.[19]
  • C’était Bourgault, with Marie-Claude Beaucage and Franco Nuovo, Société Radio-Canada, 2013[20]


Pierre Bourgault: Podcast, BaladoQuébec, 2018.[21]



Some items from the sections, Works, Biographies, Filmography and Podcast were copied and adapted from the French Wikipedia page of Pierre Bourgault. See that page's history for attribution.


  1. ^ Répertoire des personnages inhumés au cimetière ayant marqué l'histoire de notre société (in French). Montreal: Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery.
  2. ^ Germain, Jean-Claude (June 21, 2003). "L'emeute qui a transformé la Saint-Jean-Baptiste en fête nationale". Le Devoir.
  3. ^ Johnson, William (June 18, 2003). "The death of an enfant terrible". Globe and Mail. Retrieved February 10, 2021.
  4. ^ Maurie Alioff, "Léolo," Take One, No. 1, 1992, p. 16.
  5. ^ Jim Leach, "It takes monsters to do things like that: The films of Jean-Claude Lauzon," Great Canadian Film Directors, The University of Alberta Press, 2007, p. 51.
  6. ^ Bourgault, Pierre (1970). Québec, quitte ou double (in French). Montréal: Ferron. OCLC 20754607.
  7. ^ Bourgault, Pierre (1977). Oui a l'independance du Quebec (in French). Montreal: Quinze. OCLC 1132491770.
  8. ^ Bourgault, Pierre; LeBel, Andrée (1987). Le Plaisir de la liberté: entretiens avec Andrée Lebel (in French). Montréal: VLB. ISBN 978-2-89005-265-9. OCLC 461989123.
  9. ^ "Moi, je m'en souviens /". biblio.shawinigan.ca. Retrieved 2021-05-30.
  10. ^ "Maintenant ou jamais /". biblio.shawinigan.ca. Retrieved 2021-05-30.
  11. ^ Bourgault, Pierre (1982). Écrits polémiques (in French). Montréal: VLB Editeur. ISBN 978-2-89052-237-4. OCLC 422866312.
  12. ^ Bourgault, Pierre (1983). Écrits polémiques (in French). Montréal: Édition du Club Québec loisirs. ISBN 978-2-89005-158-4. OCLC 933173811.
  13. ^ "Écrits polémiques". www.editionsboreal.qc.ca (in French). Retrieved 2021-05-30.
  14. ^ Bourgault, Pierre (1996). Ecrits polemiques (in French). Outremont, Quebec: Lanctot Editeur. ISBN 978-2-89485-013-8. OCLC 635653557.
  15. ^ "Livre La résistance - Écrits polémiques tome 4 | VLB éditeur". www.edvlb.com (in French). Retrieved 2021-05-30.
  16. ^ Bourgault, Pierre (1983). Le plaisir de la liberté : entretiens (in French). Montréal: Nouvelle optique. ISBN 978-2-89017-050-6.
  17. ^ "Bourgault". Lux Éditeur (in French). Retrieved 2021-05-30.
  18. ^ "Oeuvres | La Cinémathèque québécoise" (in French). Retrieved 2021-05-30.
  19. ^ "Oeuvres | La Cinémathèque québécoise" (in French). Retrieved 2021-05-30.
  20. ^ "'C'était Bourgault' en rediffusion | C'était Bourgault | ICI Radio-Canada Première". ici.radio-canada.ca. Retrieved 2021-05-30.
  21. ^ "Aujourd'hui l'histoire | Pierre Bourgault | BaladoQuebec.CA". baladoquebec.ca (in French). Retrieved 2021-05-30.

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