Nadine Girault, who served as minister under the CAQ government, dies aged 63

Former Quebec Secretary of International Relations Nadine Girault announced her lung cancer diagnosis in 2019.  (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press - photo credit)

Former Quebec Secretary of International Relations Nadine Girault announced her lung cancer diagnosis in 2019. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press – photo credit)

Nadine Girault, a cabinet minister during the first four years in power of the Avenir Quebec coalition, has died, Prime Minister François Legault said on Monday.

Giroult was 63.

“I am so saddened to learn of the passing of our former colleague and friend Nadine Girault,” Legault wrote in a tweet.

The Prime Minister also described her as “a passionate, determined, lovely woman”.

A member of the Avenir Québec Coalition from 2018 to 2022, Girault served as Minister for International Relations and La Francophonie and was also one of the ministers leading the CAQ’s Action Group Against Racism.

In June 2020, she increased her workload when she became the provincial immigration minister.

She also served as the MNA for the Bertrand who rides in the Laurentians.

Girault was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2019 and resigned from her roles a number of times during her tenure.

Last July, she made the decision not to run in the 2022 provincial elections.

She told Radio-Canada at the time that she was saddened by her career and active lifestyle, saying the diagnosis was extraordinarily shocking because she has never smoked and has always led a healthy lifestyle.

Before entering politics, Girault was Vice President for Development at the Solidarity fund (FTQ). Prior to that, she held senior positions at BMO Financial Group, Desjardins and RBC.

“A rare elegance,” says the minister, a close friend

Tributes and expressions of sympathy poured in online following the announcement, including from provincial party leaders, former colleagues and other elected officials.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his heart goes out to all of Girault’s mourners “who are remembered for their hard work, passion and commitment to serving others”.

Caroline Proulx, provincial tourism minister and minister in charge of the Lanaudière region, recalls becoming fast friends with Girault, having happened to sit next to her when they were both appointed to the cabinet in 2018.

“We just hit it off, I mean, we were sports fans, fans of our jobs — she was a rare elegance,” she said in an interview with CBC. “That was Nadine.”

Along with other first-time ministers, including Sonia LeBel and Isabelle Charest, the women formed an unofficial support group that Girault was a part of throughout the 2022 election campaign via text message, congratulating her friends on her re-election, Proulx said.

Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

Proulx described her as strong, kind, and funny, and said Girault’s number one goal during her tenure was to get the job done.

“She turned international relations into an economic business,” Proulx said. “It was a change that had to happen and she [led] did it with such grace and elegance and with a very clear purpose in mind… and she never gave in, she was strong and she knew where to go.

Martine Biron, the current Minister for International Relations and La Francophonie, shared this view.

“My predecessor left us a resilient and strong international network,” she tweeted on Monday.

Marc Tanguay, interim leader of the Quebec Official Opposition, expressed his condolences to Girault’s family, adding that she was “a colleague valued by all in the National Assembly”.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante described Girault as “a woman of action” who “broke glass ceilings and inspired many”.


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