MONTREAL, March 30 (UPI) -- Jean Lapierre, political broadcaster and former Canadian cabinet minister, was among five members of his family killed in a plane crash in Quebec.
Lapierre, 59, was on his way to Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Tuesday to attend the funeral of his father, 83, when the chartered aircraft, a twin-engine turboprop, crashed while attempting to land in bad weather in the remote islands. Lapierre, his wife, sister, two brothers and two pilots died.
He was regarded as a political operative for Quebec, Canada's French-speaking province, with a craving for greater autonomy within the government and occasional demands for separation and sovereignty. First elected to Parliament in 1984, Lapierre was among a group of young Liberal Party standouts known as the "Rat Pack."
He surprised Canada when he left the Liberals in 1990 to help form the Bloc Quebecois, a new party dedicated to Quebec's interests in the national Parliament.
"I never saw myself as a separatist," Lapierre said at the time. "I saw myself as somebody who wanted to bring about a level playing field for Quebec."
Retiring from elected politics in 1992 he became a media commentator. Lapierre returned to politics and the Liberal Party in 2004, and was Canada's transportation minister in Prime Minister Paul Martin's administration. By 2006 he returned to broadcasting, co-hosting a political talk show for French-language TVA channel.