Beau Risque

Beau Risque

In Quebec politics, le beau risque (, the good risk) is a political catch phrase describing the "risk" the Parti Québécois (PQ or "péquists") took in asking Quebecers to support federal Progressive Conservatives (PCs or "Tories") under Brian Mulroney and accept an ammended version of the Constitution Act, 1982, which the péquist Quebec government under René Lévesque has previously refused to sign. Mulroney's Tories promised Quebec the opportunity to fully enter into the constitution "with honour and dignity" and have its distinctiveness recognized in the document.

It was coined by Parti Québécois Premier of Quebec René Lévesque. His taking the "beau risque" provoked a crisis in the party, as its main founding principle was the entry of Quebec into a different relationship with Canada, and a number of PQ Members of the National Assembly of Quebec left their seats as a result.

In the subsequent 1984 Canadian election the Progressive Conservatives took 58 out of 75 seats in Quebec. Mulroney attempted to fufill his promise to Quebec via the Meech Lake Accord of 1987, a package of constitutional ammendments including a "distinct society" clause for Quebec recognizing that province's unique status (though in a vague way that did not grant many new legal powers other than in the field of immigration). In the 1988 Canadian election, fought around the issue of free-trade with the USA (which the Tories supported), the PCs increased their total in the province to 63. However the Meech Lake Accord was attacked from a variety of angles outside of Quebec, uniting forces as disperate as ex-prime minister Pierre Trudeau, the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, the Reform Party of Canada, and the Assembly of First Nations. It was blocked in the Manitoba legislature by First Nations MLA Elijah Harper, and then finally failed when legislature of Newfoundland cancelled its planned vote on the issue just before the 1990 deadline, signalling a rejection. Meech Lake was revised as the Charlottetown Accord of 1992, but this was defeated in a national referendum.

With the failure of the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords, Mulroney was unable to achieve constitutional recognition of Quebec as a distinct society, and in the 1993 election the Conservatives won only a single seat in Quebec (and only two in the entire country). The bulk of the Tory vote in Quebec went to the Bloc Québécois. The yet newly-created Bloc was an openly sovereigntist party led by Lucien Bouchard, a former MP and cabinet minister in Mulroney's government.

Read more about Beau Risque:  Legacy

Famous quotes containing the word beau:

    [I]f a Fine Lady thinks fit to giggle at Church, or a Great Beau come in drunk to a Play, either shall be sure to hear of it in my ensuing Paper: For merely as a well-bred Man, I cannot bear these Enormities.
    Richard Steele (1672–1729)