Bouchard replaces Jacques Laurent, the chairman since 2000.
Bouchard, an attorney, served as Canada's ambassador to France from 1985-88, and as Secretary of State and Secretary of the Environment in the federal government. In 1990, he left the government to found the separatist Bloc Qu_b_cois, and served as the premier of Quebec from 1996 until his retirement in 2001.
He inherits a growing labor problem at the MSO. The orchestra's musicians have been playing without a contract since August 2003, and last week voted to authorize a strike, though they did not set a date for a walkout.