Lévesque columnist… and politician |  JDQ

Lévesque columnist… and politician | JDQ

To ease the uneasiness of her sudden move from journalism to politics in July, Martine Biron cited several precedents. Among them, of course, René Lévesque.

• Also read: Something like a “founder”

But we mostly forget that the latter practiced both professions at the same time! More specifically, the columnist. And very regularly.

“When he joined the Journal de Montréal and the Journal de Québec in June 1970, it was fascinating that he was writing practically every day! Six times a week, to be exact,” says historian Éric Bédard.

With a colleague, Bédard undertook the search for the chronicles of René Lévesque in order to bring them together in collections. (Political Chronicles, Volume 1, 1966-1970, was published by Editions Hurtubise in 2014.)

On July 9, 1971, under the eyes of Jean Neveu, Executive Vice President of the Journal, and Jacques Beauchamp, Editor-in-Chief, Mr. Lévesque signed a new contract with the Journal de Montréal for a further year.

Archive photo

On July 9, 1971, under the eyes of Jean Neveu, Executive Vice President of the Journal, and Jacques Beauchamp, Editor-in-Chief, Mr. Lévesque signed a new contract with the Journal de Montréal for a further year.

The Clarion

In 1966, two years before the Parti Québécois was founded, the man who had previously served as a war correspondent and presenter of a public affairs program on Radio-Canada, took up pen and began publishing regular chronicles.

Le Clairon de Saint-Hyacinthe, his friend Yves Michaud’s newspaper, was the first to welcome him. “Good Sunday morning chronicle, one full page. Long texts, not far from 1500 words,” says Bédard. Lévesque pleads for the cause, becomes a teacher, dissects international news.

In the Journal de Montréal and the Journal de Québec, the founder, Pierre Péladeau, regularly offered space to the political leaders of the time. But Lévesque has a special status: “He’s his own columnist! »

Former Prime Minister with Pierre Péladeau, August 31, 1982.

Archive photo

Former Prime Minister with Pierre Péladeau, August 31, 1982.

full freedom

And he has full freedom. In Le Journal he writes “on the spot”. “It’s almost like a newspaper. He confided it himself: “I reread my chronicles to write my memoirs”. »

His most important texts? Martine Tremblay answers: “1970 at the time of the October Crisis. But at the same time he wrote so much! In some of his columns he directly attacks the left in his party. “He took the liberty of commenting on his party’s congresses. He did not hesitate to intervene with his chronicle. He didn’t censor himself. He really recorded. »

In February 1974, a sovereign daily newspaper, Le Jour, was established.

And a few months later, René Lévesque moved his pen there until the daily closed in August 1976, three months before the Parti Québécois won.

THE FIRST AND LAST COLUMN BY RENÉ LÉVESQUE IN THE NEWSPAPER

I’m Nervous: By René Lévesque

Rene Levesque

No talk of forcing upon you the personal “manifesto” of the man who has to explain at length why he allowed his… character to play the journalist! For me it’s easy to explain: I’m a journalist, maybe I’ve become a kind of figure in another industry, but he just goes back to his job. With the hope to meet there soon like a fish in water.

But in the meantime I’m more nervous than ever. It’s funny. Because I have practiced this profession to the best of my knowledge and belief for a long time, longer than anyone else. Of course it wasn’t the daily rhythm, frighteningly rushed. How can you manage to give you a clear and honest point of view six times a week that is obviously worth discussing, but at least doesn’t obscure the facts?

However, the same basic requirement was previously made in the other sectors, a little less feverish, where I did this profession of “Communicator”. Believe it or not, it has also caught on in Parliament and even in election campaigns: I could never believe that knowingly deceiving people was compatible with a role of public responsibility!

But I’ve never had this stage fright that has been attacking me for a few days and is blocking me at the moment. Where from?

I simply believe that this profession of journalism, which fascinates me of all and which, despite ten years of absence, has never stopped me, seems to me to be the most beautiful and satisfying that I know, this profession that I pursue so often dreamed of returning , today I feel like never before, with a kind of fear that you might call experience, how difficult it is.

The trees and the forest

I have just lived ten years at the heart of what is called public affairs. These things that, handled well or badly, cost so much and affect people’s lives so profoundly, I now know about them what I didn’t know so wonderfully from the outside: how complex they are, full of downsides and technical details, and thrown in by interests, ambitions, prejudices, blatant ignorance and unfortunately too often cultivated.

As befits this terribly simple profession, I used to accept and judge without too much hesitation, like a man who rules the forest and can circle it with a single glance. I’ve lived there ever since and today I feel like the adventurer who emerges from among the trees after a long and arduous journey and encountering them more often than it was his turn. After seeing and visiting the trees, I’m a little afraid to no longer have the audacity to capture the forest and simplify it in a way that is accessible.

We will see.

It is obvious

For it is on these increasingly dense and costly public affairs that I propose to speak to you most frequently.

And first of all, of course, ours. Those of Quebec. Those of a small people struggling on the verge of maturity. It occasionally (and particularly on April 29, two months ago today) gives him the deplorable, somewhat comical and frail touching look of a stretched-out youth that his too many traditional keepers are determined to keep in a hothouse… and even inside shorts!

A small people, whose entry into political independence nevertheless seems to me more necessary and urgent every day. And so normal that it should be obvious.

Like many others of my generation, I came to this conviction late and with great difficulty. But it only gets stronger. You’ll find them in these columns, in the middle, in the margin, or between the lines when it comes to our business — including the part that lingers in Ottawa.

I’ll tell you right now, I don’t want to play the wrong target or the pontifex of the p’têt-ben-que-yes-p’têt-ben-que-no. I am openly working against a regime that I believe is dangerously delaying and sterilizing us. And I will continue to do so here.

An incredible opportunity

If I’m not mistaken, only these two daily newspapers of the Péladeau group, Montreal and Quebec, were open enough to new ideas and the development of our society to create such a forum. Instead of one of those circumspect editorial columns looming over the massive and shrewd shadow of uprooted employers.

In their brief existence of six and three years, these newspapers, which are neither directly nor slyly affiliated with any party, have also managed to reach wider circles than others. It is enough to take the subway, a taxi or go to the restaurant on the corner to see it.

However, here, as elsewhere, it is only in these circles – and in the most empowered circles of youth – that we find enough go and generosity to kick-start the progress that requires real change.

Since the Emancipation of Quebec is one of them, I simply hope that my remarks will have as little impact as possible on this audience, to whom I have been given the incredible and powerful opportunity to address regularly. Anyway, the stage fright is starting to go away…

1970-1974: By Rene Levesque

Rene Levesque

Almost four years ago, on June 29, 1970, I signed a first “paper” in this newspaper. Today is the last one I add to the readers who have still endured me and I thank them for it…

Mostly six times a week, which must have been close to 1,000 reviews since inception, I’ve tried to reach as little as possible this working-class audience that Le Journal de Montréal caters to.

I did it without ever hiding my colors. It was the pro-independence view of political attractions.

“And ours first,” I wrote on day one. Those of a small people struggling on the verge of maturity. This gives him at times – and particularly on April 29 (1) – the simultaneously deplorable, slightly comical and frail touching look of a stretched youth whom his too many traditional guards resolutely keep in the greenhouse… and shorts even in them!

A small people, whose entry into political independence nevertheless seems to me more necessary and urgent every day. And so normal that it should be obvious.

Like many others of my generation, I came to this conviction late and with great difficulty. But it keeps getting stronger…”

Not easy…

This Separatist view, which is obviously controversial to many readers, I have tried to present clearly and concisely without ever misleading the facts. At this level, I hope I didn’t do too badly. But I’m bad at judging that.

On the other hand, I can repeat with the greatest certainty that back then, in 1970, “only the two daily newspapers of the Péladeau group, that of Montreal and that of Quebec, were sufficiently open to new ideas and to the development of our society to allow such a forum create. Four years later, as I say goodbye, I add that I will keep the best memories. We never spoke, even slightly, about my absolute freedom to write what I think. Not even at certain times when I had a vague notion that there might be riots and pressures here and there…

Finally, both on the part of the management and within the “room”, the cordiality and the cordiality that I have always encountered allow me to say quite simply in conclusion that it is not easy to leave.

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