Michel Chartrand, a labour activist who has been credited with helping redefine Quebec's social values, has died at the age of 93.

Union group CSN confirmed Tuesday morning that the labour leader had died, and although it did not specify the causes of his death, he had been ill for some time.

The 13th of 14 children, Chartrand spent decades fighting for the little guy, and was known for having the gift of gab.

"Chartrand was a key actor in the labour movement in Quebec," said UQAM professor Denis Harrisson.

Chartrand was an outspoken nationalist, who fought against the conscription during World War II.

In the 1940s, he was a member of a movement that paved the way for changes in how workers were treated.

"(He was among the) people who could stand up on a box and say, ‘We've got to stand up, we've got to fight.' There was no TV, there was no radio, there were no labour laws," said Arthur Sanborn of the CSN.

He was a common sight at protests against tax hikes, labour rallies, and the occasional sit-in, frequently railing against the government for abandoning individuals in favour of supporting big business.

Chartrand took over the leadership of the CSN in 1968, at a time of major change in Quebec society.

He was among hundreds of Quebecers who were arbitrarily jailed during the October Crisis in 1970.

Chartrand remained a supporter of the FLQ, even after the group murdered Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte.


Chartrand's wife, Simonne Monet, was notable in her own right as a writer, feminist and social activist who founded "La voix des femmes du Quebec."

She passed away in 1993 from cancer, and her funeral was attended by more than 1000 mourners.

One of Chartrand's brothers, Gabriel, was honoured for his role as a secret agent in occupied France during WWII.

Funeral arrangements for Chartrand will be announced in the coming days.