Fabien Roy, the man who dominated Beauceron politics in the 1970s, died this week aged 95.
According to the Roy&Giguère funeral home website, Mr. Roy “passed away peacefully” at CHSLD in Beauceville. He was then surrounded by his family. The causes of death have not been disclosed.
Born in Saint-Prosper, in Beauce, the man dedicated his life to creditism, a right-wing populist doctrine that enjoyed a certain vigor in rural Quebec in the 1960s.
A member of a party undermined by internal conflicts in the National Assembly, he became the leader of the federal Social Creditors during his last stand in the elections of 1979 and 1980. Meanwhile, he lived the brief adventure of the National People’s Party that Jérôme Choquette founded after his departure from the Bourassa government in 1975.
The man would be elected three times as a member of parliament in Quebec, once in Ottawa, but would never form part of a government. But, for him, being on the benches of the opposition was not a defect. As he wrote in his autobiography, “any deputy, even alone, outside the governing party, can be the initiator of change”.
His career began modestly. He worked in a wood cooperative where, he admitted in his autobiography, he made a file against “communist workers”, a file he showed without shame to his bosses. He then started his trucking company and founded the credit union in his hometown before working for the establishment credit unions.
A meeting with the leader of Social Credit, Réal Caouette, convinced him to become politically active. He even became the chairman of the party’s executive committee for the Dorchester constituency.
Elected three times to the National Assembly
In 1970, he was one of 12 Social Credit candidates to be elected to the National Assembly, allowing himself the luxury of beating Minister Paul Émile-Allard by more than 2,400 votes. He will then be named his party’s spokesperson on financial matters before becoming, two years later, parliamentary leader.
After the resignation of Camil Samson, he presented himself to the leadership of the Social Creditors with the hope, he wrote in his autobiography, of maintaining the unity of the party. He finished third behind Samson and elected office former federal Liberal minister Yvon Dupuis.
During the 1974 election, it was a massacre for all the opposition parties, including the Social Creditors who saved only two elected officials, among them Fabien Roy.
But even two seems too high a figure for the Social Democrats. Having regained the lead, Camil Samson sends Fabien Roy off. In 1975 he supported the former strongman of the Bourassa regime, Jérôme Choquette, in the National People’s Party (PNP) venture. The aim, according to the old Social Credit Party, was above all to be able to discuss “on equal terms” with the National Union to form a new party. The alliance will be born and will last… a month.
Despite everything, on November 15, 1976, Fabien Roy was easily re-elected in his county, even getting more than 50 percent of all the votes that the PNP received in the entire province. The following year, he would be the only member of the opposition to vote in favor of Bill 101 of the Charter of the French Language.
Transition to the Federal Social Credit Union
In Ottawa, federal social creditors are also crossing the desert. After the departure of Réal Caouette and the accidental death of his successor André-Gilles Fortin, they chose a unilingual Anglophone, Lorne Resnowki, who would not last long in the crab basket. The social creditors then turn to Fabien Roy, who agrees to accept the challenge.
In the 1979 federal election, the Social Credit Party had only six elected representatives, but held the balance of power. Relations with Joe Clark’s minority Conservative government are not in good shape. Unsurprisingly, during the budget debate, Fabien Roy’s small troop abstained, contributing to the downfall of the Clark government. Evil is coming to him. In the subsequent elections, all the Social Credit candidates were defeated, even their leader, a first for him. A first that will be repeated during the partial elections in Frontenac.
In his memoirs, Mr Roy recounts offering Joe Clark’s cabinet the possibility of finding a point of agreement to consider, in particular, a controversial petrol tax included in the budget, but his appeals “went unanswered “. In retrospect, he wrote in his memoirs that “being in the minority, the government (a) showed great irresponsibility”.
However, he does not leave politics. In the 1980 referendum, although he denied being a “separatist”, he voted “yes”, saying he wanted to “restrain Pierre Trudeau’s centralizing federal ambitions”.
After his political career, he changed direction and became a stockbroker. And he even launched himself into the media, becoming, for three years, the morning driver of Radio-Beauce. And when the time came for retirement, he sat on the executive of the Association of Former Parliamentarians of the National Assembly.
Fabien Roy will never deny social credit. In his autobiography, he wrote that this movement is “the only one that proposes fundamental reforms to improve the living conditions of all”.
His funeral will be held on Saturday 18 November from 10.30 am in the church of Saint-Georges (West sector).
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