Maurice Champagne

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In 1972, the Ligue des droits de l’homme (LDH) adopted a new mandate. Their vision was for a more egalitarian philosophy of human rights. Maurice Champagne was a key architect in the change. His background was typical of those whom the LDH attracted. He was well educated, with a 1955 bachelor’s degree from the University of Montreal, a 1957 master’s degree in medieval studies from the same university, and a 1965 master’s degree in French literature. Three years later, he completed a child psychology doctorate at l’Université de Nice in France. Like many LDH leaders, he was a professor for a time. He became the director of studies at the Collège Saint Denis until he joined the LDH full-time. Elected the LDH vice-president in 1971, he was soon its president, a volunteer position that he vacated in 1972 to become full-time director of the LDH. That the LDH played a major role in drafting the Quebec Charter of Human Rights in 1975 was evidenced by Champagne’s appointment as a vice-president of the Human Rights Commission in that year. He committed suicide in 1998.

At the time of his death, a Radio-Canada obituary stated,

“Maurice Champagne, l’artisan de la Charte québécoise des droits de la personne, est décédé à l’âge de 62 ans. Il a mis fin à ses jours et a été retrouvé sans vie près de la tour de l’Horloge, dans le port de Montréal, après avoir laissé une note dans laquelle il faisait part de son désarroi. Maurice Champagne avait procédé à une réorientation majeure de la Ligue des droits de l’homme de 1971 à 1975, défendant l’école française contre la conception anglaise des droits civils qui avait prévalu jusqu’alors” (Radio-Canada, “Maurice Champagne n’est plus.”).


Further Reading

Laurin, Lucie. Des luttes et des droits: antécédents et histoire de la Ligue des Droits de l’Homme de 1936 à 1975. Montreal: Éditions du Meridien, 1985.