Robert Bourassa to be honoured with downtown boulevard in his name
Published Wednesday, August 27, 2014 10:06AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 28, 2014 8:28AM EDT
The city of Montreal plans to honour former premier Robert Bourassa with the creation of a boulevard in his name.
University St. south of Sherbrooke St. to Notre-Dame St. will be named after the former premier.
Robert-Bourassa Blvd. will eventually include the new urban roadway resulting from the demolition of a portion of the Bonaventure Expressway.
The northernmost portion of University St., extending to Pine Ave., will retain its name.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre made the announcement Wednesday afternoon during a ceremony to honour Bourassa. Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard welcomed the initiative early in the day.
Former mayor Gerald Tremblay’s previous initiative to rename Park Ave. after the longtime Liberal premier was met with fierce resistance seven years ago.
Bourassa, a lawyer by profession, became head of the Quebec Liberal Party in 1966.
He was first elected in 1970 at 36 years old and became the youngest premier in Quebec history. He led in a particularly thorny time in Quebec history, having to deal with the October Crisis and the rise of nationalism under the Parti Quebecois.
He was re-elected in 1973 but in 1976, with allegations of corruption and nepotism dogging his party, he and the Liberals were defeated by none other than Rene Levesque and the PQ.
Bourassa then left politics and the province, immersing himself in academia. He returned to Quebec in 1980 to help lead the “Non” side in that year’s referendum.
He was re-elected leader of the Liberals in 1983, and became premier again in 1985. In his second term he was involved in negotiations surrounding the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords.
In 1993, he began treatment for skin cancer. He stepped down as head of the Liberals in 1994, and died in 1996.
Bourassa’s daughter Michelle told RDI she believes her father would have been happy with lending his name to a street that intersects Rene Levesque, saying even if they were political rivals, the two men were friends who respected each other.
-With files from The Canadian Press.