MONTREAL - Michel Vastel, a prominent Quebec journalist, author and political commentator, died Thursday after a battle with cancer. He was 68.

Vastel was born in France where he began his career as a journalist.

Upon arrival in Canada in 1970, he worked for the Quebec government and the Conseil du patronat employers group before kicking off his journalism career in this country.

He wrote for daily newspapers Montreal Le Devoir and La Presse, Quebec City Le Soleil, Ottawa Le Droit and Le Journal de Montreal, as well as the news magazine L'actualite.

Vastel also worked for Montreal radio station CKAC and Radio-Canada, the CBC's French-language network.

He was based in Ottawa for 17 years before coming to Montreal in 1995.

A prolific author, Vastel penned the biographies of three former Quebec premiers -- Robert Bourassa, Lucien Bouchard and Bernard Landry -- and of former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

His most recent book, published in 2005, was a biography of Quebec singer Nathalie Simard.

Carole Beaulieu, editor-in-chief of L'actualite, wrote on the magazine's Internet site that Vastel was "one of the French-language journalists who has left his mark on the coverage of Canadian politics in the last 40 years."

Ironically, a note from Vastel was posted on his blog Thursday, commenting on his announced retirement and wishing his readers well.