Colleagues recall spirit of former Bloc Quebecois MP Suzanne Tremblay, dead at 83

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MONTREAL -- Former Bloc Quebecois MP Suzanne Tremblay has passed away at the age of 83, according to reports.

A relative of Tremblay's confirmed the news to Radio-Canada, saying she died of cancer at the Rimouski Regional Hospital Centre.

Born in Montreal, Tremblay worked in education, most notably as a professor at the University of Quebec in Rimouski. In 2018, the school awared her the university's Gold Medal to “underline her remarkable contribution to regional development and commitment to rural areas.”

A fervent Quebec nationalist, she was part of the first big wave of Bloc Quebecois MPs elected to Parliament in 1993. Representing the Rimouski-Temiscouata riding, she won her first election by more than 13,000 votes.

She stayed in office until 2004, when she announced her retirement from federal politics.

Among her most notable moments in office were attempts to discredit Jean Charest by revealing his real first name, John.

She took on prominent roles as a critic on several files, including human resources and heritage, forging a close relationship with Liberal minister Sheila Copps.

Tremblay also served as the Bloc's House Leader, the first woman to hold such a position in the House of Commons.

Former Bloc leader Lucien Bouchard told author Martine Tremblay, for her book 'La Rebellion Tranquille,' that his colleague “had a temper and she was tough to deal with. But the best in politics are often the best to manage.”

Another former leader of the Bloc, Gilles Duceppe, also had his differences with Tremblay, but recalled someone who was “very sensitive” despite a sometimes harsh exterior.

“She had a very strong sense of self that could provoke anger and laughter in her opponents,” he said.

Current Bloc leader Yves-Francois Blanchet said in a statement that he wished to pay tribute “to a fighter, to a woman devoted to her convictions.”

Despite her longtime connection to the Bloc, Tremblay maintained a spirt of independence. In 2019, she supported New Democratic Party candidate Guy Caron.

“I am still a pro-independence activist,” she told L'Avantage newspaper. “But as long as I pay taxes to the federal government, I want to be well represented. Guy Caron has shown me, over the past eight years, his competence and his hard work.” 

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