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Jacques Parizeau lying-in-state visited by thousands

06/06/2015 03:12 EDT | Updated 06/06/2016 05:59 EDT
Thousands of people wound around the block outside of Montreal's Caisse de dépôt on Saturday to pay their respects to Jacques Parizeau.

The former Quebec premier and Parti Québécois leader, often referred to affectionately as "Monsieur," died of cancer on June 1 at the age of 84.

Members of the public and politicians began streaming into the Caisse building in Old Montreal at 10 a.m. Saturday to say goodbye to Parizeau.

"I have said it many times — he is one of the fathers of modern Quebec," said current Parti Québécois Leader Pierre Karl Péladeau.

Péladeau, who was visibly moved on Saturday, called Parizeau a "source of inspiration" and an example to many Quebecers who want the province to be a successful, financially prosperous and independent country.

Divisive figure

Parizeau will likely be largely remembered as a divisive figure in Quebec. His near-success at getting Quebec to separate from Canada during the referendum in 1995 scarred the collective psyche of many English-speaking Quebecers.

But before his tenure as PQ leader and then as Quebec premier, Parizeau served an integral part in coaxing Quebec through its Quiet Revolution, an important time in the 1960s that saw the secularization of society and the creation of many social and economic programs, such as the nationalization of Hydro-Québec.

Parizeau, a born-and-raised Montrealer, served as an economic advisor to the Quebec government for most of the 1960s and was later appointed finance minister by then-premier René Lévesque.

"I think instinctively people from all political stripes know what we owe Jacques Parizeau," said Premier Philippe Couillard.

"It's a fantastic generation out of the '60s that built what is now modern Quebec. People are here to say thanks and so are we," Couillard continued.

The Caisse building on Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle in Montreal will be renamed in his honour as a tribute to his large contribution in creating the provincial pension fund manager in the 1960s.

Quebec City-area residents will be able to say goodbye on Sunday, when his body will lie in state at the National Assembly.

Parizeau's state funeral will take place on Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Saint-Germain-D'Outremont Church in Montreal.

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