Longtime Bloc MP Francine Lalonde dead at 73

LA PRESSE

Former Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde, who for years was a proponent of legalized assisted suicide, has died of cancer at the age of 73.

Lalonde, who represented the Bloc in the Commons between 1993 and 2011, also served as a cabinet minister in the Parti Quebecois government of Rene Levesque in the 1980s.

She announced in 2010 she would not seek re-election so she could fight her cancer.

Former Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe described Lalonde on Friday as "an admirable woman'' who was also a friend.

"Of course, she was a fighter for sovereignty but also, for nine years, she fought cancer,'' he said in an interview. "She overcame unbelievable obstacles throughout her years.''

Duceppe also underlined Lalonde's work fighting for sovereignty on the international scene, adding she tried to do that in a very positive and dignified way.

Bloc MP Louis Plamondon called Lalonde a pioneer in the debate on the right to die with dignity.

In 2005, she introduced legislation that would have legalized assisted suicide in Canada.

"The proposed legislation she tabled and defended more than once in Ottawa instigated this great social debate, which now has a consensus in the (Quebec) national assembly,'' he added.

Prior to entering politics, Lalonde had been active in the Quebec union movement for 15 years.

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