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Marcel Pepin, key labour leader in Quebec, dead at 74

The Canadian Press, Wednesday 8 March 2000

MONTREAL (CP) - Marcel Pepin, one of three labour leaders imprisoned by former premier Robert Bourassa during a public sector strike in 1972, has died. He was 74. Pepin died after a long illness and from complications due to an operation.

Pepin was president of the Confederation of National Trade Unions, the second-largest labour federation in Quebec, when he and fellow union leaders Louis Laberge and Yvan Charbonneau were imprisoned for refusing to comply with back-to-work legislation.

He helped create the so-called common front, which includes all public and parapublic sector unions in Quebec united in their contract demands.

Pepin, who died Sunday, was president of the Confederation of National Trade Unions from 1965 to 1976.

Gerald Larose, a former president of the same federation, called Pepin a "giant" in Quebec's union movement.

Larose said Pepin was instrumental in the movement during the province's Quiet Revolution, which modernized Quebec and moved it away from control by the Roman Catholic Church.

"He literally built the modern union movement in the 1960s," Larose said. "He also was a man of social causes."

During Pepin's term as president, he espoused an independent and socialist Quebec.

The Canadian Press, 2000