Philippe Couillard, neurosurgeon and Québec politician (born 26 June 1957 in Montréal, Québec). He was elected Leader of the Quebec Liberal Party in March 2013 and premier of Québec in the 7 April 2014 election.

Education and Medical Career

Philippe Couillard was born to Pierre Couillard, professor emeritus of biology at the Université de Montréal, and Hélène Yvonne Pardé. He earned his doctorate in medicine in 1979 at 22 years of age and went on to complete a specialist certificate in neurosurgery at the Université de Montréal in 1985.He began his neurosurgery career at the Hôpital Saint-Luc in Montréal and served as chief surgeon from 1989 to 1992.

From 1992 to 1996, he helped found a neurosurgery department in Dhahram, Saudi Arabia. Returning to Québec, he taught at the Université de Sherbrooke Faculty of Medicine from 1996 to 2003 and was chief surgeon and director of the Department of Surgery at the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke from 2000 to 2003.

From 1999 to 2003, he served as the Canadian representative on the board of directors of the Société de Neurochirurgie de Langue Française. He sat on the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada’s Board and Committee of Public Affairs and Policy Research from 2000 to 2003.

Minister of Health and Social Services

He was elected the Québec Liberal Party Member of the National Assembly (MNA) for Mount Royal in the 14 April 2003 general election and appointed Minister of Health and Social Services by Jean Charest. In 2007, he was re-elected in Jean-Talon (Québec City). As Minister, he announced that two new university hospitals would be built at the Université de Montréal and McGill respectively.

In his first term, Couillard tackled long waiting lists in Montréal hospitals and oversaw the creation of almost 100 new health and social service centres (CSSS). The Tobacco Act was amended to include more restrictive measures (see Smoking), and a Quebec Drug policy (Politique du médicament) was launched. The Youth Protection Act was also amended and adopted.

During his second term, he increased funding for persons with disabilities by $40 million, launched an awareness campaign to reduce the stigma associated with depression.

Private Sector Activity

On 25 June 2008, Philippe Couillard stepped down as a Minister and MNA and shifted his career to the private sector. He was a partner at Persistence Capital Partners (PCP), a private equity investment fund focused on financing both public and private healthcare initiatives. He was director of research in health law at McGill University from January 2009 to December 2011.In 2010, he became a member of the international advisory board established by Saudi Arabia’s minister of health.He was also a strategic advisor in healthcare and life sciences at SECOR-KPMG, an independent consulting firm, from 2011 to 2012.

He was a member of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) and chairman of the Canadian Rx&D Health Research Foundation and Québec Network for Personalized Healthcare. He was also a board member at two Canadian biotechnology companies: Amorfix Life Sciences from 2009 to 2012 and Thallion Pharmaceuticals from 2010 to 2012.

Return to Active Politics

Leaving all his private sector activities behind, Couillard returned to politics on 3 October 2012 as a candidate for the leadership of the Quebec Liberal Party.He was elected on 17 March 2013, winning on the first ballot with 58.5 per cent of the vote.

On 7 April 2014, the Liberal Party beat its main rivals by a wide margin in the general election, winning in 70 of 125 ridings. The Liberal Party received 1.7 million votes, while the Parti Québécois won 1.075 million, barely 100,000 more than the Coalition avenir Québec.Québec solidaire, a left-wing sovereigntist party, won 325,000 votes.

Elected in Roberval, Philippe Couillard became the 31st premier of Québec on 23 April 2014.

Awards and Distinctions

Wilder Penfield Conference Speaker, MontréalNeurologicalInstituteand Hospital (2005)

Canadian Cardiovascular Congress Annual Achievement Award (2005)

World Health Executive Forum Award (2006)

Medicine, Culture and Society Prize from the Université de Montréal Faculty of Medicine (2006)

Canadian Council for Tobacco Control Award of Excellence (2007)

Jacques-Cartier Medal at the Entretiens Jacques-Cartier in Lyon (2007)

Senior Fellow in Health Law, McGill University (2009)

Member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada (2010)