January 18, 1980 – From left to right, Gisele Harvey, treasurer of the syndicate of the employees of Vaillancourt, Joseph Giguère, president of the central council of Quebec, the CSN, Gaétan Laperrière, president of the union, and Pierre Caron, vice-president.
July 1, 2020
Updated July 2, 2020 at 4h20
Joseph Giguère (1940-2020): activist for social justice
Bombing, civil war, coma, STROKE : the life of Joseph Giguère has not been restful. But the ex-trade unionist-loving social justice has kept faith in humanity and in God until his last breath, on June 23, swept by a generalized cancer, overwhelming at 79 years old.
In the region of Quebec, the native of Saint-Sylvestre, in the Beauce region, became known as the president of the central Council of Quebec, the CSN, a position he held from 1976 to 1980.
Time when the strikes were on the rise : Sico, general Trust, provincial Agency, Standard Paper Box, to name the most notable. We are talking about a record number of strikes under his presidency! This was prior to the adoption of a law against strike-breakers, in 1977. The clashes with the forces of law and order were common.
His widow, Marie-Claire Nadeau, remembers that the couple would go in the early morning with their two babies, the one on the back of dad’s and the other in a stroller, to go and picket. The police believed that they used dolls, so the presence of young children proved to be incongruous on the lines of strike!
Family always also welded 45 years later, they have spent the last few days Mr. Giguère the four together.
“We have heard of cancer for the first time on 12 June,” said Ms. Nadeau, attached to Montreal, where they live for thirty years. “The doctors told us three to six months, but Joseph looked at me and said to me : “In 15 days, it will be finished.” It has taken 11. He was accompanied in his last days, with our two children. We were good together.”
“The doctors told us three to six months, but Joseph looked at me and said to me : “In 15 days, it will be finished.” It has taken 11. He was accompanied in his last days, with our two children. We were good together. ”
Marie-Claire Nadeau, wife of Joseph Giguère
“Joseph was the son of a farmer, which did not prevent him from being an intellectual. It was not a Michel Chartrand, but was flamboyant in his own way”, explains Yves Fortin, who has worked as a young activist to his entry into the executive of the central Council, before replacing the chair.
“It was an austere reminder of the pride of being a worker and highlighting the importance of each one in his union. He sought consensus and was very unifying. It is like this that he established the committee of solidarity”, where the trade unions of various businesses joining together to support each other in their conflict of each other’s work.
As a young activist at the time, François Saillant remembers to pass a picket line to another, day by day.
“It was necessary to block physically the access to the workplace to strike-breakers. Once, with Joseph, it had to attract the police officers behind the building to be able to continue to block the front. It was bardasser not bad…” says the one who coordinated the Front of popular action in urban redevelopment (FRAPRU) for nearly 40 years.
During the presidency of Mr. Giguère, each annual conference was an austere reminder of the debate on his salary, ” recalls Mr. Saillant. Mr. Giguère insisted to keep a pay equivalent to what he received as cutter heads of chickens at the Quebec Poultry, slaughter poultry, where he worked before joining the central Council, rather than the higher remuneration to which he was entitled.
Recruiting trade union at the Quebec Poutry would be precisely at the origin of the attack to which he was subjected, in the evening of April 3, 1974.
A bomb with nails craft is placed between the entrance doors of their house to the 1st Avenue, at the corner of 11th Street, in Limoilou, finally had caused only “minor damage”, according to The Sun of the time.
Joseph and his dear Marie-Claire, the young married couples from moving in two months earlier, were not present at the explosion. They campaigned to replace the american union was in the pay of the bosses. It was the evening of the first meeting.
“Love activists”, as denise says, they remained inseparable for nearly a half-century, until the death of Mr. Giguère.
He who was left for dead by a hit and then proceeding to cycling in 1998, this earned him a few weeks of coma.
Then in 2010, a cerebral vascular accident (STROKE) was thrilled with the speech and writing of this great communicator and populariser, leaving him with aphasia. It has supported up to become president of the quebec Association for aphasic people in the last five years.
“Marie-Claire, it was more than his half. She was always by his side in all the battles,” said Mr. Fortin, who has just ended a career of nearly 30 years for the post of secretary general of the Conseil central de Québec–Chaudière-Appalaches.