A man of vision died recently, Robert Bourassa. No one can question his role in the changing Cree world. He left his mark on us all.
I know you would expect me to bring up the La Grande Complex or the fact that he was the first premier of Quebec to call in the Canadian Army to quell an Indian uprising during Oka.
But let me just point out that he was a man of vision. Perhaps that vision wasn’t what the Crees would have wished but it was truly grand in the eyes of Quebec and the watching world. The New England Americans flocked to the banner of “clean” renewable hydro-electric resources on a grand scale. Bourassa’s marketing ensured that 10 per cent of their power comes from Cree land. This is approval and a recognition of vision.
His response to the Oka crisis was in his eyes the same as when he had called in the army to occupy Quebec under the War Measures Act back in the 70’s in response to the FLQ. Given that record I feel there was no personal animosity towards Native people.
You may think I bring these things up to speak ill of the dead. I do not. All of these things I have seen on TV, along with other milestones in Robert Bourassa’s life. Bourassa was the youngest premier elected in Quebec. His political comeback after allegations of misuse of influence left no doubt he was a survivor. His tenacious nature was known to all.
Many admired him for this as well as his personal touch with colleagues and opponents alike. He was quick to remember birthdays, pregnancies, weddings and election wins of both his allies and opposition. Political newcomer Robert Libman remembers a gift with a personally signed card. Another political opponent remembers Bourassa sending out for a tie to replace the one he had stained over the luncheon bargaining table. Bourassa looked his best later speaking to the National Assembly. One might say that Robert Bourassa cared more about Quebec than the PQ. It was during his reign as premier that the bilingual signs disappeared in Quebec. His attempts with Meech and Charlottetown show his belief in Quebec and its future.
I would say that for his time and his people Robert Bourassa was a great man.
And in the end he was a human being like the rest of us. He has passed on to another existence and leaves the legacy of his existence on this earth behind him.
The Creator speed him on his journey into the great unknown.