Michel Chartrand (1916-2010)
It can be rightly stated that Michel Chartrand, defender of labour and the common man, was a figurehead of the trade union movement in Quebec. As a young man, Chartrand was involved in various organizations such as the Jeunesse indépendante catholique (JIC) movement, Jeunesses patriotes, a garments cooperative and the Maître chez nous cooperative. He was also active in the Action libérale nationale (ALN) party and the Bloc populaire canadien party, of which he was a founding member. Chartrand learned about trade unions during the strikes at Amiante in Thetford Mines and Asbestos in 1949. Thereafter, he worked for trade unions as an organizer, which led to several brief periods of imprisonment. At the same time, he pursued his commitment to politics, becoming the leader of the Parti social-démocrate (PSD) in Quebec. He was defeated in the federal elections of 1958 and in a provincial by-election in 1959.
After setting aside his trade union involvement for several years, he again became actively involved in 1968. As a union activist, he gained a reputation for being methodical and not beating around the bush when it was time to say what he really thought. In 1983, Chartrand oversaw the creation of the Fondation pour l'aide aux travailleurs et travailleuses accidentés (FATA), an organization of which he was particularly proud. As a trade union lawyer, FATA took him to the four corners of the province to defend cases involving workers having sustained occupational injuries.