Jean Charest is Quebec’s 28th Premier, a position he has held since 2003. He has served as Member of the National Assembly (MNA) for Sherbrooke since 1998.
Charest and the governing Quebec Liberal Party were returned to office with a slight majority in the provincial election held on December 8, 2008. The Party won 66 of the 125 seats, improving its results over its minority victory in the 2007 election. This electoral victory marks the first time in more than 50 years that Quebeckers have given a governing party its third consecutive mandate. During the election, Charest campaigned for the need for stability during tough economic times.
The Liberal government’s mandate will be to steer the province through the economic uncertainty that is producing declining provincial revenues and job losses. Charest plans to implement measures to stimulate the province’s economy, while also seeking its share of assistance from the federal government for its major sectors such as forestry and manufacturing.
Charest became Quebec Liberal Party leader in 1998. In December 1998, he was elected to the Quebec National Assembly and became Leader of the Official Opposition. In April 2003, Charest’s Liberals defeated the Parti Québécois, and Charest became Premier. His mandate included health care reform, tax cuts, reduced spending and downsizing the government.
Prior to entering provincial politics, Charest was actively involved in federal politics beginning in 1984 when he was elected as the Progressive Conservative Party MP for Sherbrooke. He assumed several significant roles: Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons from 1984-86; Minister of State for Youth in 1986, the youngest cabinet minister in Canadian history; Minister of State for Fitness and Amateur Sport in 1988, though he resigned from cabinet in 1990 after improperly speaking to a judge about a case regarding the Canadian Track and Field Association; and Minister of the Environment in 1991.
After Prime Minister Brian Mulroney resigned, Charest was one of two candidates to contest the leadership of the party – a bid he lost to Kim Campbell. Charest subsequently assumed the role of party leader after the PC Party was decimated in the 1993 federal election (it went from two back-to-back landslide majorities under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to electing just two Members of Parliament), and worked to rebuild the Party. In his effort to rebuild the party, Charest set out on extensive cross-country consultations.
Charest was born in Sherbrooke, Quebec on June 24, 1958. He completed his secondary studies at Montcalm School and his college studies at the Sherbrooke Seminary. In 1980, he earned a law degree from Sherbrooke University and was subsequently accepted to the Quebec Bar in 1981. From 1981 to 1984, Charest practiced law with Beauchemin, Dussault. He is married to Michèle Dionne and has three children.