Paul Gérin-Lajoie 1920 - 2018


Published: 7Aug2018

The University Flag is lowered August 9, 2018, on the day of the state funeral, for The Honourable Paul Gerin-Lajoie; C.C., G.O.Q., L.L.D. honoris causa.

Mr. Gérin-Lajoie put forward several principles: free public education, the obligation to attend school until age 16 for all Quebec youth, the establishment of the secondary education network, exchanges of higher-level students with France and improved teacher training. He created CEGEPs in 1967 and established the Université du Québec in 1968.

Paul Gérin-Lajoie is considered one of the great figures of Quebec’s Quiet Revolution. As the province’s first education minister, he implemented many of the reforms recommended by the Parent Commission. He secularized the education system, created secondary schools, made it mandatory for youth to stay in school until the age of 16, established Cégeps, and facilitated access to postsecondary education by creating the loan and bursary system. Gérin-Lajoie also spearheaded Quebec’s first international accord -- a co-operation agreement with France in the field of education. He is credited with setting out what later became known as the Gérin-Lajoie doctrine: the idea that Quebec should conduct its own international relations in areas under its jurisdiction.

Brief biographical notes:
* Born in 1920 in Montreal
* Studied at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf and Université de Montréal
* Admitted to the Bar of Quebec in 1943
* Received a Rhodes Scholarship in 1945
* Elected as Liberal Member of the Legislative Assembly for the riding of Vaudreuil-Soulanges in 1960
* Premier Jean Lesage appointed Gérin-Lajoie first as his minister of Youth (1960–64) and then as his minister of Education (1964–66)
* Received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from McGill in 1964
* Led the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) from 1969 to 1977
* Received close to 40 awards and honours, including 12 honorary doctorates (including one from McGill in 1964). Appointed Companion of the Order of Canada, Grand Officer of the Ordre national du Québec and Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur and was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal and the UNESCO Albert Einstein Gold Medal.
Sources: National Assembly of Quebec, The Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC), Historica Canada, CBC