Former premier Bernard Landry remembered as 'great patriot' at funeral
Published Tuesday, November 13, 2018 1:48PM EST Last Updated Tuesday, November 13, 2018 7:04PM EST
Former Quebec premier Bernard Landry was remembered at his state funeral Tuesday as a loving family man, an economic visionary but above all a patriot who never wavered in his devotion to seeing Quebec become independent.
"Today we are all gathered to pay tribute to the departure of a great patriot, to use a word that he liked so much," Premier Francois Legault told mourners inside Montreal's Notre-Dame Basilica.
"He was a great servant of the state, but especially a great servant of the Quebec nation -- this nation, this people he loved with all his strength."
Former Premier Jean Charest, whose Liberals ended Landry's time as Parti Quebecois premier in 2003, noted that politically, he and Landry "were, in the noblest sense of the word, adversaries."
But the staunchly federalist Charest praised Landry for his uncommon commitment to the cause he held dearest.
"During his entire life, premier Landry was preoccupied by a profound conviction, that of Quebec independence," Charest said. "I know nobody else for whom that conviction was so anchored in every aspect of his life. He had set himself a mission, and in this battle he never took a single day off."
Landry's casket, draped in a Quebec flag, was carried into the basilica by provincial police officers wearing their olive green dress uniforms as the Gilles Vigneault song "Les gens de mon pays" played.
Christian Lepine, the archbishop of Montreal, presided over the service, which was mapped out by Landry himself, right down to the musical selections and the roster of more than a dozen speakers.
Landry died last Tuesday at the age of 81.
His daughter, Pascale Landry, shared stories of her father's family life, including a memory of him driving a Citroen and smoking Gitanes cigarettes. She said he treasured his grandchildren and was careful to instill in them a sense of their Quebec roots.
"More than any tribute, what would make him happy is that you all, in your way, continue his combat for a Quebec that is fairer, stronger, and more free," she said.
Former PQ premier Lucien Bouchard recalled Landry's disappointment when the Yes side narrowly lost the 1995 sovereignty referendum in a campaign led by Bouchard and Jacques Parizeau.
"He believed, like others in October 1995, to have seen the promised land," Bouchard said. "But if he regretted the people's verdict, he never called it into question. Bitterness had no hold on his eternal optimism."
Ted Moses, former grand chief of the Grand Council of the Crees, remembered Landry as a friend of the Cree people. "He was also my friend and even called me, 'My brother,"' Moses said. It was Moses who signed the Peace of the Brave on behalf of the Cree with Landry's government in 2002.
In his two years as premier, Landry is recognized for helping Quebec's tech sector flourish and for the landmark agreement with the Cree, considered a model for negotiations between governments and First Nations.
"He had ambition, he had audacity, he had no inhibition about what Quebec could achieve," former PQ leader Jean-Francois Lisee said before the service. "The Montreal and Quebec of today, where artificial intelligence, video games, the aerospace of tomorrow, are being invented, it is a little bit the legacy of Bernard Landry."
Landry, a longtime Parti Quebecois minister, became party leader and premier in 2001 after Bouchard resigned.
He died at home in Vercheres, Que. of complications from pulmonary disease. His body lay in state Saturday in Quebec City at the provincial legislature and Monday in Montreal at the basilica.