Jean Lapierre and family dead in Iles-de-la-Madeleine plane crash
Published Tuesday, March 29, 2016 2:19PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 30, 2016 6:58AM EDT
Former cabinet minister and political analyst Jean Lapierre was among the seven victims in a plane crash in Iles-de-la-Madeleine.
The other victims are the pilot and co-pilot along with members of Lapierre's family. There were no survivors.
Lapierre, 59, served as federal transport minister and the Quebec lieutenant before becoming a political commentator. He often appeared on CTV News, CJAD and TVA among other media outlets to offer his political insight.
"He was a bridge," between English and French communities said CTV Montreal Executive Director Barry Wilson, speaking about how Lapierre's small-town roots helped make politics accessible to the common person and to people of all backgrounds and political stripes.
As a Member of Parliament, Lapierre represented the Montreal riding of Outremont.
He originally served in the House of Commons from 1979 to 1993 and later served in the Bloc Quebecois caucus. He left the Bloc in the early 1990s and later rejoined the federal Liberals.
Lapierre was a well-known broadcaster and TV presenter in Quebec.
Lapierre tweeted on Monday that his father had died at the age of 83 after a long battle with Parkinson's.
Lapierre's wife Nicole Beaulieu, his two brothers Marc and Louis, his sister Martine, the pilot and copilot of the aircraft, Pascal Gosselin and Fabrice Labourel also died. They were flying to Iles-de-la-Madeleine for Lapierre's father's funeral.
Lapierre and Beaulieu leave behind two children, Marie-Anne and Jean-Michel.
Politicians, journalists react
Condolences poured in from colleagues, friends and fans, including many from across political lines.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, who was a former colleague of Lapierre’s when they served as MPs, both in Montreal ridings, expressed his condolences to Lapierre's mother. He was emotional as he recalled his last trip to Iles-de-la-Madeleine, when Coderre paid a visit to Lapierre’s parents. Coderre spoke of Lapierre’s tenacity and intelligence, and his love for politics.
"He was a guy who was curious about life – he wanted to know and wanted to understand," said Coderre, saying they didn't always agree, but he always respected his opinion. He referred to him as a great communicator, capable of expressing his opinions in a simple, succinct way.
Former prime minister Paul Martin also expressed his grief for the loss of the former MP and his friend.
"He had a great love for this country, and great love for people," he said. "He always had a smile on his face."
He added that his skills as a commentator were highly lauded.
"He's one of the finest political analysts I ever met," Martin added. "He worked so hard at it."
TVA also issued a statement expressing grief at the loss of Lapierre.
"I am completely devastated by this news that will leave a void in politics, the media and Quebec society," said Julie Tremblay, president of TVA, in the statement.
"We have lost today not just a colleague, but also a passionate man who influenced all of Quebec with his rigour and his analytical skills," said Pierre Dion, president and CEO of Quebecor Inc., which owns TVA.
Barry Wilson spoke about how connected Lapierre was to the political scene, calling it "uncanny."
"He was a wealth of information," Wilson added, saying that he "always maintained his small-town roots."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted, "Shaken by the sudden death of the Hon. Jean Lapierre on the Iles-de-la-Madeleine. A great loss to the political world."
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair also tweeted his condolences.
"An utter shock to learn of the death of Jean Lapierre and many family members," Mulcair said. "Deepest condolences to those grieving this tragic loss."
"You were loved and admired. Thank you for all you gave us," added Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard in a tweet.
Seven people aboard
An ambulance technician in the area said six people died at the scene and one died later after suffering a heart attack.
“The six people never went to the hospital. They were declared dead on the spot,” ambulance supervisor Benoit Leblanc of Ambulance Leblanc said.
A seventh person who was on board the aircraft suffered a heart attack and was transferred to Quebec or Montreal, said Leblanc.
Poor weather conditions
Sgt. Daniel Thibaudeau said the plane lost control on its approach. Thibaudeau told CTV News Channel weather conditions were poor at the time, that it was snowing heavily at the time and crosswinds were strong.
Environment Canada issued a warning for high winds in the area. Haze was also reported in the sector.
Police are still investigating the cause of the crash.
The plane was a Mitsubishi MU2 turboprop, registered in the United States. It took off from the St. Hubert airport at 9:10 a.m. with the Aero Teknic aircraft company.
Iles-de-la-Madeleine Mayor Jonathan Lapierre, told reporters that Air Canada had cancelled flights Tuesday because of poor weather conditions.
Witness Antonin Valiquette said he saw the plane hit the ground, bounce over a small hill and crash a second time before coming to a stop.
"I saw the plane hit the ground, went up the hill … there was a lot of parts flying around … and the condition of the plane after that was a wreck, honestly," Valiquette told CTV News Channel.
"The second hit really took its toll on the plane."
Valiquette estimated that the crash site in Havre-aux-Maisons was about five or six kilometres from the local airport.
The Transportation Safety Board has sent investigators to the scene.
Écrasement d'avion aux îles de la Madeleine ... pic.twitter.com/b2BGTlYLVQ— Lapierre Jonathan (@jonlapierre1806) March 29, 2016