Jean Charest’s long detour
Jean Charest was destined for a career in the federal government before being literally regimented to block the road to Lucien Bouchard and the sovereignist movement.
After the close result of the 1995 referendum, the federalists were looking for a champion capable of facing Prime Minister Lucien Bouchard (ex-leader of the Bloc Québécois in Ottawa and ex-colleague of Charest) who was at the height of his popularity.
Charest distinguished himself in the NO campaign with passionate speeches that earned him the title of “Captain Canada”. The pressure from political circles and business people on Jean Charest became untenable and he resigned himself to making the leap into provincial politics in 1998.
The transplant between this Ottawa parachute and the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ) was not done automatically. Liberal organizers in Quebec said that he remained an “Ottawa blue” and not a “real red”.
Charest had to make his classes in the opposition, lose a general election before becoming Premier of Quebec in 2003. For him who was elected deputy at 28 years old in the House of Commons, and who always aspired to lead Canada was an unexpected detour.
The rest is known. I believe that Jean Charest is tailor-made for a federal position. Perfectly bilingual, he has an in-depth knowledge of Canadian and international affairs and has conducted complex free trade negotiations. Federal policy has the advantage of being more distant than that of Quebec. The major federal files touch on trade, the environment, foreign relations, defense, social programs … In Quebec City, the proximity of the files means that ministers are too often crisis managers.
It is undeniable that a large part of the Quebec electorate has a bitter memory of the Charest years and its three mandates (Charbonneau commission, Bastarache commission, student crisis, allegations of corruption). The Machurer investigation dragged on and if it were to be closed in the coming weeks, the ex-PM will have the opportunity to start a second political career. This gifted politician should not be underestimated if he runs for the leadership of the Conservative Party. Talk to Kim Campbell, a popular favorite, whom he almost combed when he took over the leadership of the Conservative Party in 1993.