Claude Castonguay, businessman, senator (b at Québec City 8 May 1929). Educated at Laval U (1948-50) and U of Manitoba (1950-51), Castonguay taught at Laval 1950-57 while working as an actuary at several Québec insurance companies. In 1962 he formed his own consulting firm. He began to gather political influence in the 1960s, first as actuary to the group setting up the Québec Pension Plan in 1960-63, and then during 1966-70 as chair of the Québec royal commission which proposed the establishment of a provincial health insurance scheme.
Castonguay was first elected to the Québec National Assembly in 1970, where he implemented his own proposals, serving as minister of Health and minister of family and social welfare 1970-71 and minister of social affairs 1971-73. Québecois still honour his accomplishment informally by calling their health insurance cards "castonguettes." Widely regarded as the most powerful minister in Robert Bourassa's cabinet when he left politics in 1973, he nevertheless declined to run for the leadership.
He joined Laurentian Group Corp in 1976 as president of its newly acquired Imperial Life. Under his aggressive leadership of Laurentian Group, as CEO 1982-89, it became one of Canada's largest financial service conglomerates, with operations spreading into the US, Caribbean and Europe. His political connections were an important factor in Laurentian's growth as he played a major role in persuading Québec finance minister Jacques Parizeau to proceed with deregulation of Québec's financial institutions in 1983-84.
Castonguay was named Companion of the Order of Canada in 1974 and a senator in 1990. In 1991, in the aftermath of the failure of the MEECH LAKE ACCORD (seeMEECH LAKE ACCORD: DOCUMENT), he was named co-chair of the Special Joint Committee on a Renewed Canada - the Dobie-Castonguay Committee - by PM Brian Mulroney. Shortly after the committee began its hearing, however, Castonguay resigned, citing ill health. In December 1992 he resigned his senate seat.