Quebec Premier Bernard receives a kiss from his Chantal Renaud before giving his concession speech to his supporters on Monday April 14, 2003 in Quebec City after Liberal Party leader Jean Charest won the provincial election. Renaud and Landry later married and she was at his side when he died at 81 on Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Former Quebec premier and PQ stalwart Bernard Landry dies at 81

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Bernard Landry, a long-time stalwart in the Quebec independence movement and former Quebec premier, has died at the age of 81 at his home in Verchères, south of Montreal.

Quebec Opposition Leader Bernard Landry gestures during a news conference Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2005 in Quebec City. Landry has died at age 81. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Landry served as the province’s premier from 2001 to 2003 and was part of every significant political battle fought by the Parti Quebecois since its founding in 1968.

And while many differed with his views, politicians of all stripes are praising him for his strong convictions, his economic vision and love of Quebec.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault called Landry a giant in Quebec politics, comparing him to former premiers René Lévesque and Jacques Parizeau.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had similar praise.

Quebec Minister for International Relations Bernard Landry (left) lights a cigarette for Quebec Premier René Lévesque
in a March 5, 1984 file photo in Quebec City. Landry, a sharp-tongued soldier for the independence movement and longtime Parti Quebecois stalwart, died Tuesday surrounded by his family. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Nadeau

“Mr. Landry was a dedicated leader who played a central role in a defining chapter of Quebec history,” Trudeau said in a statement.

“He devoted much of his life to making a difference in the lives of Quebecers.”

Landry joined the sovereignty movement early and was among the original members of the Parti Quebecois to run in the 1970 provincial election, two years after the party was founded by Lévesque.

He was defeated twice in provincial elections–in 1970 and 1973–before winning a seat in 1976 when the Parti Quebecois came to power for the first time.

Parti Quebecois Leader Bernard Landry (left) has a laugh with Quebec Liberal Leader Jean Charest before the leader’s debate in Montreal Monday, March 31, 2003. Landry died Tuesday, Nov. 6 at age 81. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Over the years, Landry held prominent government positions with the PQ, including deputy premier and finance minister.

He became premier in January 2001 after Lucien Bouchard resigned the post, serving until April 2003 when the PQ was defeated by Jean Charest’s Liberals.

Among his most notable accomplishments was the 2002 agreement between the Quebec government and the Cree population of northern Quebec to develop the massive James Bay hydro-electric project.

Landry passed away from complications from pulmonary disease at home on Tuesday, surrounded by his family.

Landry, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, said Tuesday,”had Quebec tattooed on his heart.”

With files from CP, CBC, RCI, CTV

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