Lise Payette, Quebec radio and television personality, provincial cabinet minister and feminist trailblazer died peacefully at her home Wednesday evening. She was 87.
Born in Verdun, Quebec, Payette started her broadcasting career at CKTR-AM Trois-Rivières in 1954. She held various jobs, including editor of the weekly Frontier Rouyn-Noranda and host of the show La Femme dans le monde (The Woman in the world) on CKRN-DT (branded on-air as Radio-Canada Télévision CKRN) Rouyn-Noranda. She later lived in Paris and wrote for Petit Journal at the Patrie, New Journal and Châtelaine.
Upon her return to Montreal, she worked on TV program Interdit aux hommes (“prohibited to men”) for Radio-Canada and on a series of animated television programs for the CBC French and English networks. From 1972-75, Payette was host of TV series “Appelez-moi Lise” (Call Me Lise) and “Lise Lib.”
She entered provincial politics in 1976, representing the now-defunct riding of Dorion for the Parti Quebecois under Rene Levesque. Her portfolios included Minister for Consumer Affairs, Cooperatives and Financial Institutions; Minister of State for the Status of Women; and Minister of State for Social Development.
Among Payette’s accomplishments during her time in office was getting the phrase “Je me souviens” (“I remember”) on Quebec license plates, replacing the old slogan of “La Belle Province.” She was also instrumental in founding Quebec public auto insurer SAAQ, and updates to the Civil Code of Quebec, allowing married women to keep their maiden names.
Payette left political life in 1981 and returned to television, founding production company Focus, and writing and producing several documentary and fiction series.
In 2004, Payette began writing columns for the Journal de Montreal and then Le Devoir from 2007-16.
Among her accolades, Payette was recognized as “Woman of the Year” by Canadian Women in Communications (1994), awarded the Florence Bird Award by the International Centre for Human Rights and Development (1997),was an Officer of the National Order of Quebec (2001), and received a lifetime achievement award from the Quebec Business Women’s Network (2003).
News of her death was met online with acknowledgement from both the journalism and Quebec political community of the inroads she made for women in both fields.
Canadian Heritage Min. Pablo Rodriguez Tweeted “A remarkable woman has left us. Lise Payette was a champion for women’s rights wherever she went, whether it be on TV, radio or in the National Assembly. I would like to offer my most sincere condolences to her family and her loved ones.”