Quebec (Qc) CANADA - March 1991 file photo -
John Ciaccia (L)
Lucien Bouchard (M) in Quebec City.
Bouchard joined Mulroney's Progressive Conservative government in 1988 as Secretary of State and later Minister of the Environment, serving until 1990. While still a strong Quebec nationalist, he believed that Mulroney's Meech Lake Accord was sufficient to placate nationalist feelings and keep Quebec in confederation.
However, after a commission headed by Jean Charest recommended some changes to the Accord, Bouchard left the Progressive Conservatives (May 1990), feeling that the spirit and objectives of Meech were being diluted. Mulroney felt betrayed by Bouchard, and rejected his reasoning, having heard from a friend that Bouchard planned on leaving days before the Commission's report. In fact, in his memoirs Mulroney stated that trusting Bouchard was his most regretful and costliest mistake as Prime Minister. After the failure of Meech, Bouchard formed the sovereigntist Bloc QuÈbÈcois, initially a faction of disaffected, separatist federal MPs and later a full-blown party, which attracted a variety of former Liberals and Conservatives.