Monique Begin was a high-profile Canadian politician during the 1970s and the 1980s. Begin was a member of the Liberal Party of Canada and a prominent ally of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Like Trudeau, she was elected to Parliament from Quebec.

On two separate occasions, she served in the role that was then known as minister of health and welfare. Her second stint holding that portfolio may well be what Begin is best remembered for politically. That legacy has recently been given a particular spotlight.

Passed away on September 8, 2023

The Globe and Mail reports that Monique Begin died on September 8, 2023.

An exact cause of death was not immediately released to the public. But she had been receiving palliative care. Begin was in Ottawa at the time of her passing. She was 87 years old.

As indicated by IHeartRadio, several political figures would issue statements of mourning afterward, including current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, son of Pierre, who called her a "trailblazer" in his comments. She was said to be "much-loved" by former longtime New Democratic Party Leader Ed Broadbent.

She began her political career as a staffer working on the Royal Commission on the Status of Women. 1972, she was elected to the Canadian House of Commons for the first time. Initially, she was elected from the Montreal riding of Saint-Michel.

Later, Begin won her seat in the House from the nearby riding of Saint-Leonard-Anjou.

Four years later, she was appointed to the Cabinet for a brief tour of duty as the minister of national revenue. In 1977, the elder Trudeau named her the new minister of health and welfare. Begin's predecessor in the office, Marc Lalonde, also died earlier this year.

When the Liberal Party fell from power, it concluded Begin's first tenure as the health minister. But when Trudeau and his party regained control in 1980, he immediately appointed her to her old job again.

It was during that time that Begin spearheaded the Canada Health Act. The legislation would be the cornerstone of Canada's version of Medicare.

It also lays out the country's guiding principles for general healthcare policy.

Shortly after passing the CHA, Begin announced her retirement from Parliament. She did not run for another term in 1984. Fellow Liberal Alfonso Gagliano was elected to succeed Begin in her riding. Gagliano later became a significant figure during the premiership of Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

An international upbringing

Monique Begin was born to a Canadian father and a Belgian mother in Rome, Italy. As a child, she resided in France and in Portugal before making her way to Canada. Begin went on to study sociology. She earned a master's degree from the University of Montreal and a doctorate from the University of Paris.

After leaving Parliament, Begin would join the faculties of Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. Begin also went on to co-chair an education Royal Commission for Ontario. She was appointed to the post by the province's New Democratic Party Premier, Bob Rae.