Pauline Marois

Premier of Quebec • September 2012 to April 2014

On September 4, 2012, Quebecers went to the polls and elected a new PQ minority government with 54 of 125 seats.

Pauline Marois is a woman of many firsts. For one, she was the first woman to be elected premier of Quebec. She also held the most ministerial offices in Quebec’s history, including those of minister of education, minister of health, and minister of finance. After 33 years of political work, she retired from public life on April 7th, 2014.

Marois was first elected to Quebec’s National Assembly in 1981, having run for office while pregnant. She later joined the cabinet of Premier René Lévesque in what would become the first in a long string of ministerial assignments in successive Parti Québécois (PQ) governments. Despite her remarkable ascent in government, Marois failed twice to secure the leadership of the party, which led to her retirement in 2006. But she wasn’t done yet, after the resignation of PQ leader André Boisclair, Marois returned, ran unopposed and was acclaimed as party leader.

On September 4th 2012, Quebecers went to the polls to elect a new government. The PQ ended up winning 54 of 125 seats, forming a minority government. During Marois’ victory speech in Montreal, she was rushed off stage by her bodyguards after a gunman shot two people, killing one.

“Essentially, they saved my life by acting as a barrier, even if they didn’t know it. But that’s what happened anyway. If (the gunman) had got into the room and had fired at all those people who were there, it would have been carnage.”

Pauline Marois talking to the Journal de Montreal in an interview, one year after a deadly attack at her election night party.

After 18 months as premier, Marois dissolved the legislature and called a new provincial election in March 2014, seeking to obtain a majority. They suffered a defeat, winning only 30 seats out of 125. Marois was among those who lost their seats, and, during her concession speech, she announced her resignation as party leader.

Hear more about the Canadian women who have served as a First Minister by checking out our No Second Chances Podcast.