lundi 29 juin 2009

The Souvenir of Roméo LeBlanc (1927-2009)

All Canadians and especially Acadians are mourning a great citizen, Roméo LeBlanc (81 years).
I often had in mind the existence of this character over the years because he was a journalist in the same media where I myself was a journalist, and was also press officer of a Prime Minister, in his case two.
I am Acadian myself and when I lived in Moncton in 1979, Romeo Leblanc was considered an icon. A humble man who was accessible but who was also very powerful. People said that he did not really knew the size of his power and that he could have got much more from Pierre E. Trudeau who respected him greatly, and who needed his presence in the cabinet. Some even say that he could have been Prime Minister but he thought that he did not have enough support to be considered. This was the same considerations and his humility that have almost prevented him from accepting his first job as a journalist with Radio-Canada. He asked himself whether it would be better to stay in Moncton and be a big fish in a small pound rather than a tiny fish in the ocean of Radio-Canada? Fortunately for Canadians, he chose the option to leave the comfort of his environment.
Roméo LeBlanc was always very engaging and extremely polite. He loved meeting people and talking with them, a personality trait of the Acadians. I compare him with Jules Léger in terms of his kindness to the public. He also had much in common with another great politician and Governor General, Jeanne Sauvé. All three had class and, above all, they were respectful of their peers. They were not in politics for their own benefit but for the betterment of their communities.
Roméo LeBlanc returned to finish his days in his home land, the village of Grande-Digue, near Shediac. He has lived the last months more or less conscious because of Alzheimer's disease which had significantly reduced his quality of life and the contact with his entourage. The fact remains that his accomplishments are noteworthy, not for their brilliance but for their generosity, respect and equality between cultures. Romeo Leblanc believed in the concept of multi-ethnicity and if he was a very strong supporter of french and Acadians, he was always very respectful and understanding of English culture. He had married an anglophone from Toronto, Diana Fowler. offers its condolences to his family and especially his son Dominic, the MP for Beausejour and we offer Roméo LeBlanc a mention in the gallery The Best 2009 -
Bernard Bujold -
Photo 1: Roméo LeBlanc
Photo 2: Roméo LeBlanc in Ottawa (1998)
Photo 3: Beach in Shédiac - New-Brunswick
Photo 4: Roméo LeBlanc and Dominic ( Moncton - January 2006)_____________________________________________

vendredi 26 juin 2009

The pleasure of aging...The Anniversary of Bernard Bujold

There can be no illusion, there is no greater wealth in life than the youth! But for those who are aging, we must also discover the right side of the age, because any way, we cannot go back and rejuvenate ...
Personally, I passed the milestone of 50 years old a few years ago but every summer, to the occasion of my birthday on June 28, I take stock of my life. This is my romantic side!
At the outset, my greatest achievement is to be the father of two children. Strangely, this event was also one of the most painful of my life because I divorced in 1991 and I could not see my son and my daughter grow up. David was born in 1982 and Stephanie in 1983. Do I regret having divorced, no but if I have an advice for young people it is to choose your spouse, by love only and for no other reason! For those who wonder about the two mascots, yes they are inspired by my two children. Mr. X is the image of my son David and the mascot Miss Gym is the image of my daughter Stephanie. David is a "wizard" in Computer and Internet and he was an important collaborator with Stephanie is engaged and she works in marketing.
Youth is also without doubt the defining moment in life. These are the times when the decisions that we take at the age of 20 will influence all our lives up to its end. The choice of a profession, the appropriate studies, the discovery of our passions, our mate, etc… So many decisions sometimes taken lightly, but which will have inevitable consequence and almost irremediable throughout our adult lives.
But if we made mistakes, how to correct the situation? I say that life is like a trip to drift on the river and the only option is with the current. We try to stay floated and hope that we will avoid the rocks and dead trees. In this sense, the only way to correct the errors of life is to be lucky! The chance to survive the obstacles that are on our way and turn them into positive events or at least to survive the disaster. But luck is not really a matter of choice. I have already written: "One does not choose to welcome the chance but it is the Chance who chose us." This phenomenon is also increasingly recognized by scientists and it seems that some employers ask when interviewing potential candidates: "Do you are naturally lucky in life?"
The chance may take several aspects but it is essential to succeed in life, even if we had made the right decisions in our youth. Without luck, the most logical decisions will become dismal failures, and sometimes tragic! The chance may be as significant as not to board the flight of aircraft which will crash into the ocean (Air France) or as simple as finding a $ 5 bill on sidewalk. When one exceeds his fifties, we are often asked if we have any regrets? I answer that we should not pity on failures and that no one should believe that he is totally responsible for his success. Obviously it is a simple answer but it sums up the reality of life. This life is in itself inexplicable and generally cruel and unpredictable. How to explain, for example, acts of violence among men? While religions should be the vehicle of love and friendship between humans, they are the source of all ills, including terrorism and wars!
Is there life after death, or is it that life boils down to our only passage on earth. As Dr. House would say, there is a good chance that life is nothing more than our experiences of the present moment. If you make a mistake and that there is an after-life, then we will really have the "luck" and we will continue our journey forever ... But as once said Bernard Arnault (the husband of the pianist Hélène Mercier from Montreal): "... On earth, we must take care of the living ones ..."
Thank you all for the good wishes that you wrote to me regarding my anniversary and as I have often said: “I am still fighting! "
Regarding my favorites pleasures, it is not skydiving ... I prefer a quiet dinner with friends, good wine, and once the visit left her home, quietly read a book, magazine or newspaper ... paper!
Bernard Bujold
Photo 1: Bernard Bujold and the mascots Miss Gym et Monsieur X
Photo 2: David and Stéphanie Bujold
Photo 3: Mademoiselle X and the mascots

vendredi 19 juin 2009

The Mayor of Montreal and the next municipal elections in Quebec

The post of mayor of Montreal has less prestige that he had at the time of Jean Drapeau, but it's still very coveted. The current mayor, Gérald Tremblay, has held the seat for two terms and he hopes to get a third election victory and finish his career in style at the direction of what he calls his city! (Tremblay will be 67 years on next 20 September)
The current mayor has been criticized very aggressively in recent years but he always kept on course despite the attacks and has survived which is very honorable in politics ...
Personally, I know Gérald Tremblay but I am not an intimate. I was closer to the former mayor Pierre Bourque and I even contributed, along with Pierre Péladeau in his first campaign and election victory of 1994. Péladeau pushed Quebecor and the Journal de Montreal behind Bourque and I served as the courrier. We had dislodged Jean Doré unexpectedly because all observers predicted that Bourque would be defeated ... It was the first time a staff member (Director of the Botanical Garden) became the first magistrate of his town. I think it was a good mayor at least during his first term.
I also know another candidate who was also a personal friend of Pierre Péladeau, Jacques Duchesneau. Unfortunately he failed to be elected at the November 1998 election but I think he could have win if he had been better surrounded. His communications advisors had recommended moving away from his image as a chief of police to move closer to the ordinary citizen. I am convinced this was what caused the failure! I had offered my services at the time for his communications, but Jacques did not want to invite me on his team. Note that Pierre Péladeau had died in December 1997 and I was looking for a job at the time. I like to think that I could have help Jacques Duchesneau become Mayor ...
The current 2009 campaign for mayor of Montreal may be a reflection of the economy, ie rather dull and without any major project. Benoit Labonté could have held a good debate but he was afraid of not winning and he gave way to a former Quebec Minister Louise Harel, the same who had led the issue of municipal mergers. His past may catch and damage her candidacy. Does any candidates would be able to dislodge Gérald Tremblay? Yes but no one want to pay the price or make the effort to persuade voters. Jacques Ducheneau is not interested at all in politics any more and Pierre Bourque is retired and very happy to be. Others like Normand Legault are tired of struggling to convince, while ex-politicians as Liza Frulla prefer their new starring role on TV.
The municipal elections will be held on November 1st for the entire province of Quebec and in an election campaign everything is possible. The proof is Quebec City. It was believed that nobody could replace Mayor Andrée Boucher and it is an unknown candidate as the mayor, Régis Labeaume, who became admired not only in Quebec but in all of Canada and even in France. His particular difference is the requirement for members of his party not to support him. Each of the councilors in Labeaume political party can vote according to his conscience.
We have to wait and see the election results in Quebec City as Labeaume will also be in re-election next November but it seems that if there is a "Barack Obama" of Quebec politics, this is the mayor of Quebec!
Politics is often comparable to the horse races. The horse that everybody see as a winner just lose the race behind a horse on which no one has bet. Good luck to all candidates for mayor, not only in Montreal but throughout Quebec. That the best wins, both men and women!
Bernard Bujold
Photo 1: Gerald Tremblay, Jacques Duchesneau, Louise Harelet Pierre Bourque
Photo 2: Régis Labeaume - maire de Québec

mardi 9 juin 2009

The rock of Frank Stronach

Frank Stronach is now one of the richest men in the world but his history began humbly in Montreal as a young immigrant.
I know Frank Stronach (76 years) for having met him when I was in Ottawa in 1984 after the election of Brian Mulroney. Stronach just turned 50 at the time and already his auto parts company Magna was growing rapidly.
The dinner that we had together is still engraved in my memory. He told me: "I came to Canada in 1954 without any possession. At first I worked at any small jobs and I even picked up golf ball north of Montreal. In fact, I almost picked up because I never found the location of the golf course... I left for Toronto and opened a mechanic shop with a partner. We were two young people with a tool box. We worked without rest and we even slept in the garage to save paying a rent.
At one point, I realized that this was not a life. One Sunday afternoon, I sat on a large rock and I thought: What do I want to do with my life? Repairing old cars in exchange for few dollars or live a life with a beautiful home and a family? There on this rock, I realized that if I wanted to realize my dreams, I would be capable. For me it all started on that rock ... "
This story, told with an Austrian accent, was very captivating. I hangs on to it with interest. Stronach knows how to communicate and his eyes are very bright.
The man was very successful but also have many failures in business as in politics. For one, he could never be elected MP when he dreamed of becoming Prime Minister (1988). His project of luxury magazine VISTA (1989) did not work neither the election of his daughter to the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada (2004). I would say he has experienced as many failures as successes but the conclusion is that the gains outweigh the losses. As he repeats often: "We must enjoy our successes, forget the failures and keep moving ... "
I met Frank and his daughter Belinda a few times over the years after the dinner of 1984. I was also a supporter of Belinda when she was candidate for the leadership of Conservative Party, a position that she lost to Stephen Harper.
In the case of Frank, he makes me think of Richard Branson, Paul Desmarais or Guy Laliberté. These are leaders who occupy the room when they enter one as their "aura" is very strong. They are also very lucky because they all have been as close to failure as to success. Their destiny was a success but they could have lost everything. For example, just look at the fate of another major character who resembled to them in terms of charisma but who has lost everything: Robert Campeau from Ottawa.
Frank Stronach has now left Canada to return to his home country Austria. He recently made the news media with its proposal to buy the German automobile company OPEL. Medias also speak of its proposed electric car, a pioneer in the field.
We will wait and see for the next part of his life story but Frank has shown up until now that he can be convincing to Lady Luck to be his friend!
Picture 2: Frank Stronach in his mechanic shop (circa 1960)
Picture 3: Belinda and his father Frank Stronach (May 2008)
Picture 4: Frank Stronack in New York

mardi 2 juin 2009

The souvenir of Marcel Béliveau (1939-2009)

I became a friend of Marcel Béliveau as soon as Pierre Péladeau introduced me at his house in Ste-Adèle. I remember very well because we were sitting by the pool and Marcel had offered to go get me a coffee in the kitchen. He brought me a cup that was dripping ...
Pierre Péladeau loved Marcel Béliveau and I would say it was one of his few real friends. On numerous occasions, Pierre suggested to me that I use Marcel for this or that. The last time was on acquisition of the television network TQS by Quebecor. Pierre Péladeau wanted that Marcel manages its operations. "This is our man and he will make a kill of the station ..."
Unfortunately the founder of Quebecor died before taking hold of TQS and Marcel was never appointed by the successors at Quebecor ...
I kept contact with Béliveau after the death of Pierre Péladeau but we have only seen each other four or five times between 1998 and his death. On each occasion, the meeting was always very pleasant and I felt that the man regarded me as a closed friend. Yet I was not an intimate friend as the friendship depended from my relation with Pierre Péladeau. Marcel Béliveau loved someone if he had confidence in him and because I had been the right arm of the founder of Quebecor, who was his great friend, Béliveau always considered me as his friend.
The last time I talked to him was on his Facebook. He had written me a message to thank me for having mentioned him in a column at where I had highlighted his contribution to humor in Quebec. He confessed to live one day at a time but he did not fear death. I visited his site regularly to check its projects, but it was not very active. He had hundreds of Facebook friends.
The news of his death saddened me but I expected it. He said himself that this would happen before next September. He left our world on May 28.
To those who often asked him how he planned life despite his poor health, he always answered: "Live fully now and forget the rest! We must accept the events of life if you cannot change them and never fight against the impossible. We must look forward and never cling to the past"
Marcel Béliveau was a millionaire from television. How to explain his financial failure at the end of his life. He committed two errors:
1. He wanted to repeat his success of television in areas that he did not know, restaurants and travel agencies;
2. He invested his personal money, a gesture that is not financial wise ...
I invite you to watch one of the last interviews of Marcel Béliveau available on the website of the television network TVA.
Bernard Bujold =
Link Interview (French) Marcel Béliveau - TVA
Link Les Meilleurs 2009
Photo 1: Marcel Béliveau (Picture by Bernard Bujold)
Photo 2: Pierre Péladeau and Bernard Bujold
Photo 3: Marcel Béliveau playing golf (Picture from Marcel Béliveau collection)

The art to forgive - Nancy Michaud

The heinous murder of Nancy Michaud in the small village of Rivière-Ouelle (1200 inhabitants) makes us think about the scenarios of the series Criminal Minds presented to American television (CBS).
The perpetrator is often a neighbor who seems quite harmless and very friendly. Anyone who looks at the picture of the killer Francis Proulx, with his intellectual glasses and his clean haircut, would agree to become his friend. However, the individual is a dangerous man who killed a young woman and then had sex with her corpse. The reality is worse than the fiction ...
The conviction of the murderer to 25 years in state prison made the spouse of the victim said that he would have preferred that the criminal had been sentenced to death ... People close to the spouse told him that he should forgive or he will never resume the course of his own life and allow his children to do the same. If they forget the crime against Nancy, the survivors will continue to live their lives otherwise they will waste years in the ruminant on a revenge that will probably be impossible.
According to me: "You cannot forgive our enemies, but they should be ignored. " We must forget the crimes and injustices committed against us but, forgetting does not means to forgive. Forgiveness is different than forgotten. Forgive someone is to accept that it takes an active role in our lives, it has an existence as such and, at best, love and respect. I do not think this behavior is humanly possible. Only Pope John Paul II was able to forgive the gunman who had attacked in an assassination attempt. My personal philosophy of life is ignorance of the existence of the enemy. There is nothing worse as revenge to ignore someone!
This behavior has been taught by my friend, now deceased, Ben Weider. He told me one day: "I have no enemy! I eliminated all of them from my thoughts. This does not mean that I will be reckless and let them hurt me again but I forget their existence and I live my life. If they cross my path, it is obvious that I will make sure not to be their victim a second time. I do not forgive, but I forget and I am very careful! " This is a very wise advice and invite people of Rivière-Ouelle to apply it.
Bernard Bujold -
Note: Last year at the same date, I wrote an editorial about Rivière-Ouelle. It is still relevant today. If you are interested to read it again, here is the link.
Link to Editorial on Rivière Ouelle (June 2008)
Photo 1: Rivière-Ouelle
Photo 2: Nancy Michaud (1971-2008)
Photo 3: Francis Proulx