Whether on the trail of drug dealers in South America and Asia, kidnappers in Africa or members of the mafia, Félix Séguin practices his profession as a journalist at his own risk and demands more.
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• Also read: Narcos PQ: Dangerous journey in Colombia, land of cartels
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“I’m living a dream”. In the unusual role of interviewee on the occasion of the launch of the thirtieth season of the show JE, which he has been presenting since winter 2021, Félix Séguin speaks with passion about a profession that for him represents more of a life than a possibility to pay for groceries.
He has been a reporter since 1997, conducting missions abroad since spending a month in Haiti in 2010 to witness the devastation of an earthquake that killed at least 100,000 people.
“I never feel like I’m working. I’m addicted to action,” says the man, who, as a child, saw himself tracking down criminals all over the world with a notebook and a microphone.
“I saw myself doing exactly what I’m doing now. I come from a family of news junkies and I imagined it, I said it to myself and I threw it through the air a thousand times and said: If we’re called to cover the war, I’ll go. If we’re asked to report terrorist attacks elsewhere, or to go to the Sahel in West Africa to try to track down jihadists who have been kidnapping Quebecers, I will go. I don’t ask for more.”
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A risky venture
You must have tough skin. The risks are real. The reporter cites as an example a report made in Colombia that we recently saw at JE.
“I spent ten days in the Andes with Colombian drug dealers in a totally insane, super dangerous story. When I got back, I pinched myself: did they really talk to me or was it a dream?
They really had spoken to him.
“They showed me how they supply coke to Quebec. It’s kind of surreal to me.”
It was no less relaxing when he went in search of the kidnappers of Quebecer Édith Blais, who had been imprisoned in Mali for 15 months.
“We have been in situations where there was a real risk of kidnapping. There are tribal fights, terrorist fights. We, we are launched in the middle to ask questions in a country that is far from ours, extremely dangerous. I remember being under so much stress at the time.”
When his loved ones are scared? “My girlfriend is the producer of all the political programs on TVA and her father is a journalist. She has been immersed in the world of journalism since birth. She understands, she also knows that I manage my risk, she doesn’t ask many questions either. Sometimes it helps.”
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Throughout his career, Félix Séguin amassed impressive testimonies, notably the unpublished confidences made to him by mafioso Andrew Scoppa.
He is surprised to see how the gangsters no longer hesitate to openly brag about their misdeeds.
“I have just returned from Tunisia to do a report on fraud affecting Quebecers. I spoke to the scammer, I asked him how he managed to scam us and he told us. He gave us the recipe from A to Z and wasn’t even embarrassed to do it.
Like influencers, bandits seem to relish internet fame.
“The different platforms have created a certain vanity among people who would normally do anything to remain anonymous. I understood from interviews with criminals that they do not shirk this tendency. They are willing to expose themselves because they think they are good criminals and want to do better than the rest.
If Félix Séguin is able to live such exciting adventures, he owes it to the bosses of JE, who have not hesitated to push the boundaries of the show’s coverage over the years.
The reporter recalls that in the beginning, Jocelyne Cazin and Gaétan Girouard mainly served “certain desperate causes, consumer problems”.
Significant resources are made available to the JE team today
“As the years passed, we decided to tackle investigations that had an impact on society. I am thinking of one [enquête] about gay soldiers in the Canadian Armed Forces, which has made a big difference. I am thinking of another at the SPVM, which was accused by its former police officers of fabricating evidence, leading to the resignation of former boss Philippe Pichet. Over the years we’ve pushed our boundaries and have always found stories that were set abroad and have a strong connection to Quebec. We go further geographically and in the quality of subjects.”
When asked to appoint journalists to serve as role models, Félix Séguin did not hesitate to name Claude Charron and Raymond St-Pierre. He admits without embarrassment that he’s trying to copy her. “The idea is to convey your information as accurately as possible, but it’s about telling a story powerful enough to expose people’s brains to storing that information. It’s an art. There are no 3,000 people who have great storytelling skills. Those two, they had it.”
A UNIQUE COMPETITION IN THE WORLD
“I’m competitive. If I don’t have too much competition, I get bored,” admits Félix Séguin. Luckily, Enquête on the other channel gives him stiff competition and, he believes, benefits for viewers here. “I think that makes the two shows stand out, and I always tell myself one thing: for eight million French speakers here in Quebec, there are two weekly journalistic investigative shows on television. you have to appreciate it It’s precious in my mind, so I’m excited that we’re celebrating Season 30 of JE.
Television, newspapers and books: over the years, several surveys in which Félix Séguin took part have ended up on bookstore shelves. Gallant – Confessions of a Hitman, which traces the sordid journey of one of the most prolific assassins in Quebec history, has even been adapted for cinema with Luc Picard. In addition to Gallant, Félix Séguin also wrote La source and Le parloir together with his colleague Éric Thibault. As a member of the Quebecor Bureau of Investigation, he helped write the books Le livre noir des Hells Angels, PLQ inc. and Narcos PQ.